*There have been countless reports, recommendations, rule changes, investigations, civilian checks and balances on the LAPD, and Black Live Matters protests. It’s as if none of these things ever happened or meant little to nothing. The LAPD’s wanton, reckless, and outrageous slaying of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana Peralta is grim testimony to that. It’s worse if that can be said than that. The LAPD shootings are drastically up from a year ago, over twenty to be exact. Even when the LAPD shot fewer people the death toll from the shootings has remained high.
Now we have the Peralta slaying. This again rammed home the perennially troubling issue of what, when, and how LAPD officers should use non-lethal force. In the Peralta slaying, the official version is that officers responded to a violent incident call at a Burlington store in North Hollywood. There were reported shots and a gunman. No gun was found and no evidence of shots. There is no dispute that she posed no threat to the officers.
What makes the Peralta. saying even more outrageous is that it and the other LAPD shootings come in the wake of the historic legislation the state legislature passed last January 1, 2020. It mandated strict training, accountability, and discipline procedures for the use of force by officers. Since the law was passed, however, the number of shootings, some questionable, has not dropped. The LAPD shooting sprees are a prime example.
The one certainty in the latest killing is that it’s not an isolated case of deadly force used by the LAPD. So, the question again in the latest shooting is did she have to die? The stock answer is that whenever a suspect poses a direct threat to an officer, or an officer responds to a potentially life-threatening incident, he or she can use whatever force is necessary up to and including deadly force. In more cases than not this is a strictly subjective, judgment call. And, in almost all cases, officers that use lethal force are shielded from prosecution in the absence of iron-clad proof of wrongdoing. No LAPD officer has been prosecuted for the use of deadly force on duty no matter how questionable in many years.
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