Rev. Al Sharpton accused the Los Angeles Police Department of decades of getting “it wrong” when he delivered the eulogy for Valentina Orellana-Peralta, the 14-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet fired by an LAPD officer at a clothing store in December.
The funeral was held Monday at the City of Refuge Church in the Gardena, a suburb of Los Angeles, with members of the community, activists, attorneys and the teen’s family attending.
“There is nothing normal about shooting so recklessly that a young teenage girl looking to live the American dream — that was shopping with her dear mother Soledad possibly getting a Christmas dress — ends up being dressed for her funeral,” Sharpton told mourners.
“This could have been my daughter. This could have been your daughter. And if we don’t stop it, it will be your daughter or my daughter. This must stop,” he continued.
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The civil rights activist reminded attendees about the LAPD beating of Rodney King in 1991.
“Through those 31 years, we keep seeing LAPD get it wrong, and here we are again. How long will it take for you to get it right?” he asked. “We must make new laws, we must make new training. Those who do not know how to go into department stores … and not shoot like this is the wild, wild west, must be held accountable.”
Valentina’s father Juan Pablo Orellana also spoke at the funeral and said through a translator, “They have destroyed us as a family, as parents… it only gives us the desire to live, that the flag of our cause, justice for our daughter Valentina... give us strength to continue this fight. We know that we’ll win, and only we will live a little bit with peace, knowing that your death was not in vain.”
Orellana-Peralta was struck by a bullet fired by an LAPD officer responding to calls about a man assaulting customers inside a Burlington clothing store in North Hollywood on Dec. 23. The teen came to the U.S. with her mother last year from Chile.
Following the fatal shooting, the LAPD released body cam footage showing officers arriving at the store after receiving frantic 911 calls about a man attacking customers. Officers found a bleeding woman on the floor and an erratic male suspect who was beating her with a metal bicycle lock. After shots were fired, officers can be seen in the video descending on the suspect identified as 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez. He was later pronounced dead on the scene.
Orellana-Peralta was trying on dresses with her mother on the second floor of the store when a bullet went through the dressing room wall.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore previously released a statement calling the teen’s death “devastating.” “This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” he said.
Watch Sharpton’s eulogy below: