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Parents of a 14-year-old girl shot by an LAPD officer say they haven't slept since she was killed.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta was trying on a dress for Christmas when a stray bullet hit her.
Peralta was only in the US for six months after moving from her native Chile.
The family of a 14-year-old girl who was shot and killed by an unnamed Los Angeles police officer in a Burlington store on December 23 spoke to the public for the first time on Tuesday.
The press conference came a day after the Los Angeles Police Department released footage of the shooting that killed teenage bystander Valentina Orellana-Peralta and a 24-year-old assault suspect, Daniel Elena-Lopez.
Attorney Ben Crump introduced the girl's parents, Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana, as they cried standing arm in arm. They wore signs that read, "Justicia para nuestra hija, Valentina" or "Justice for my daughter, Valentina."
Crump said Valentina had been in the US for close to six months, moving from her native Chile and studying at High Tech Los Angeles, a charter school in the San Fernando Valley.
"Her most important dream was that she wanted to become an American citizen — and, tragically, that will never happen," said Crump.
"Never should have this 14-year-old little girl have ended up as collateral damage at a shopping center at a plaza," Crump added. "Her parents are trying to figure out how to get up every day."
Peralta said she and Valentina had been dropped off at the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood by her sister and that Valentina was trying on dresses for Christmas.
Peralta, crying, said they heard a commotion and screaming as they held each other in the dressing room. "Eyes closed, we began praying for peace, praying for safety," Peralta said.
Peralta said she then heard an explosion and "saw white powder coming from" Valentina's body and that "she started having convulsions."
"When something impacted Valentina, it threw us on the floor and she died in my arms. And there was nothing I could do," said Peralta. "There was nothing I could do," Peralta repeated, weeping.
After Peralta screamed for help, the police removed her from the dressing room but left her daughter laying there, she said.
After releasing body camera footage yesterday, the LAPD said Valentina was killed by a stray bullet as an officer shot at a suspect attacking shoppers with a bike lock.
The dressing room was located behind where the suspect was standing when the officer fired three shots without warning.
Orellana, in Spanish, said Valentina was his only child and they had planned to go to a Lakers game together. He said she "was like a best friend." He said he was in disbelief when Peralta called him and told him Valentina was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department.
He told reporters he hasn't slept since Valentina was killed and that a skateboard she ordered for Christmas arrived the following day.
At the press conference, attended by Insider, Orellana hoisted the skateboard, still wrapped in plastic, in the air.
"Now her gifts will be brought to her grave," her father said, adding that she will "skate with the angels." Orellana had traveled to the US to see her and described "the pain of opening her Christmas gifts."
Orellana said he will not rest until justice is served.
Attorneys Crump and Rahul Ravipudi said the press conference was meant to let the parents speak and more details about the investigation will be released in the future.
Crump said the family hoped to keep local, state, and federal investigations on the table, mentioning a potential Department of Justice investigation.
Police Capt. Stacy Spell told CNN that the incident is also being reviewed by the California Department of Justice, the state Attorney General's Office, and the Office of the Inspector General.
"Valentina's life matters!" Crump and the family members chanted at the end of the conference.
The Los Angeles Police Department shot at least 38 people this year — 18 fatally— according to the Los Angeles Times, an increase from 2020 when LAPD shot 27 people and killed seven.
The Los Angeles Police Department did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.
Read the original article on Insider