Mayor Garcetti Pledges Transparency In Investigation Into Teen’s Death

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Eric Garcetti said today that the city will “look comprehensively” at everything including training, tactics and policies in its investigation into the killing of a 14-year-old girl who was struck by a stray bullet fired by Los Angeles police at an assault suspect inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood.

“I promised Valentina’s mother and her family, when I spoke with her, two things: transparency and justice,” Garcetti said. “We will have, and do have, three investigations … we will look comprehensively at everything from training to tactics, existing policies, and the incident itself, as well as what we’ve tried to do, focus services and whatever we can do for the family.”

The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division and Inspector General’s Office are both investigating the shooting, along with the California Department of Justice’s California Police Shooting Investigation Team for Southern California. The DOJ investigates officer shootings under provisions of a bill signed into law last year.

Once the investigation has been completed, the results will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Thursday that he assured the chief law enforcement officer for the California Attorney General’s office that they have “full unencumbered access to our investigation and to support their independent investigation.”

Funeral arrangements for Valentina were announced on Wednesday, with civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver the eulogy and officiate on Monday at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena.

The family’s lawyers, Ben Crump and Rahul Ravipudi, will also speak at the funeral and repeat their call for justice for Valentina, who was killed in a dressing room while shopping with her mother for a Christmas dress on Dec. 23.

LAPD Officer William Jones, who shot Valentina while confronting a suspect, has been placed on administrative leave while authorities investigate the shooting. The officer’s union said that Jones had recently completed a course on how to handle an active shooter situation and was following his training.

Police fatally shot 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez — who did not have a gun — but a bullet fired by Jones pierced a wall and struck Valentina.

The LAPD released body camera and surveillance footage of the entire violent incident last week, and on Sunday a coalition of civil rights groups called for Jones to be arrested and prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.

The incident drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who offered his condolences to the people of Chile — where Valentina was from — while on a phone call with Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric on Dec. 30.

Valentina came to Los Angeles with her mother from Santiago, Chile, about six months ago and had dreams of becoming a robotics engineer and an American citizen.

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