Los Angeles Police Department officers were required to read a training bulletin in November 2021 asking them to consider their surroundings when firing their guns at dangerous or fleeing suspects, to avoid innocent people, officials said Tuesday. to reduce the risk of being killed.
It was nearly a month before an LAPD officer armed with a rifle shot a suspect who was lashing people with a bike lock inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood. As he opened fire, the officer inadvertently killed 14-year-old Valentina Orellana Peralta, who was hiding on the other side of a wall inside the dressing room with her mother.
The bulletin reads, “In situations where officers have the time and resources to choose between a variety of weapon systems and ammunition, officers are likely to be exposed to pistol and rifle bullets, shotgun slugs and shotgun buckshot ammunition.” Overdose issues and ricochet threats must be considered.”
LAPD officers after the shooting, which also killed assault suspect Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, said the officer fired three times and at least one bullet went off the ground. They think the goal then penetrates the wall behind Lopez, hitting Peralta in his hiding place.
Whether the officer, William Dorsey Jones, had sufficient time to consider other options at his disposal before firing his rifle, would play into the department’s decision to complete the discipline.
Those facts will also play a role in whatever decision is ultimately made by the California Attorney General’s office, which is reviewing the shooting and could potentially file criminal charges.
Several LAPD chiefs discussed the shooting and its investigation at Tuesday’s police commission meeting, the first time since the death of Orellana Peralta.
The meeting also took place a day after the girl’s funeral in Garda, attended by civil rights leaders and local activists as well as her family.
The commission is also reviewing the shooting, and members told the meeting that they could not comment on the incident before making a decision. But the commission asked the question of what strategy the group of officials involved, including Jones, would have been aware of prior to the December 23 incident.
Body-worn camera footage from the shooting showed a small group of officers armed with shotguns, handguns and at least one less-lethal foam baton launcher climbing an escalator on the store’s second floor, when the LAPD was fired upon by several 9-1-1 met. Lopez called on the people there to attack.
A supervisor for those officers spoke to a store employee just before the shooting; The employee told officers that Lopez was equipped with a bike lock.
As officers scanned the second floor looking for Lopez, Jones arrived with a rifle. Seeing an injured woman on the ground, when they moved forward, they pushed them in front of the officers.
Jones, now the head of the group, hurried to the woman as other officers told her to slow down. He turned the corner into the aisle and saw Lopez at the other end. Without saying anything, he pointed a rifle at Lopez and opened fire. Lopez ducked, then fell to the ground and died.
A few seconds later, officers heard Orellana Peralta’s mother screaming in the dressing room, where Lopez was standing.
Deputy Chief March Reina, who heads the LAPD’s training bureau, told the commission on Tuesday that officers armed with rifles like Jones are part of the department’s rifle cadre. There are about 1000 officers in this cadre.
This special team was formed after LAPD officers found themselves devastated in the 1997 North Hollywood Shootout when they encountered two bank robbers armed with high-powered rifles.
Reena said the cadre members are trained to switch between their rifles and sidearms as they are responding to the change. He said the basics of the training included a “transition drill”—officers walking up to a target about 30 feet away, pointing their rifle. As they get closer, they are taught to switch to their less powerful but more compact handguns.
Reena said that rifle cadre officers are taught that smaller, more confined areas are not suitable for rifles.
“You can make round penetration in malls and stores,” he said.
Reina said officers over the past 20 years have been trained to respond quickly during active shooter situations, to take out suspects before they can do more damage.
But he added that they also need to take stock of their surroundings to reduce the risk of self-harm.
“Upon arrival, officers should obtain as much information as possible,” Reina said. “They should listen to the gunshots to determine what is going on.
“Any information that an officer receives should be investigated, if possible,” he continued. “If there is no sign of the active shooter being in position they should slow down their movement.”
In body worn camera footage, officers can be heard telling Jones to slow down. Someone can also be heard recognizing that Lopez was standing near the dressing room of the store.
Reina said the LAPD’s standard for “reverence to life” – meaning they should refrain from killing anyone if possible – and reducing violent encounters does not change even in active shooter situations.
An attorney for Jones told a Southern California newsgroup that the officer believed he was responding to an active shooter situation.
Questions remain about what Jones should know before firing his rifle.
At least one caller told the 911 dispatcher that he heard shots fired. But another call from a store employee correctly indicated that Lopez only had a bike lock. And before Jones got there, another employee on the ground told the first officers there that Lopez was only armed with a bike lock, according to LAPD-released footage.
The bulletin released in November about background awareness was part of an ongoing training for LAPD officers on how to respond to violent incidents, including with active shooters.
According to the bulletin, officers who “have the time and resources to choose from a variety of weapon systems and ammunition” should try to consider other options before wielding their guns.
Even when they are firing ammunition, “officers should be aware that if accuracy is compromised all rounds can pose a danger to unintended persons and property, as the rounds are not intended to be used for their intended purpose.” Can go far away from the target.Even if the goalie strikes the target, the goalie can exit the target and continue until the kinetic energy is expended.
However, the bulletin notes that in the event that nothing is happening, “none of these considerations … deprives the authorities of the right to defend their own lives or the lives of others.”
Reina said Tuesday that officers were already to be retrained in active shooter response later this month. He said the last time most officers in the LAPD received active shooter training was about two to three years ago, after the department updated the training to include new tactics and lessons from recent events.
Officers have killed at least two others in situations like the recent Burlington shooting: In 2018, officers tried to arm a homeless man with a bread knife who took a woman hostage at Van Nuys Church and shot both of them. A few weeks later, officers pursuing an assassination attempt at Silver Lake Trader Joe’s exchanged gunfire with the man, stabbing store employee Mellie Corrado to death.
Activists called to a virtual commission meeting on Tuesday said Jones should not have fired and used a rifle inside a store where shoppers were likely to lack common sense.
“It wasn’t an accident sir. It wasn’t an accident – his fellow officers were telling him to slow down and he didn’t,” said Minerva García, an L.A. resident, who also said he had met Orellana Peralta the day before. attended the funeral.
“Using a military-grade rifle to shoot in a busy shop during the busiest time of year, the day before Christmas… Well, it’s personal when your child is hit like this.”