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Just two days before Christmas, Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr. opened fire with a military grade rifle in a busy department store in North Hollywood, killing 2 people: 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta and 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez, who appeared to be in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Since December 18, the LAPD has also shot and killed Rosendo Olivio Jr., Margarito Lopez, and an as-of-now unidentified man in Eagle Rock, and shot and injured Brandon Camorlinga. Lopez, Oliver Jr., and Camorlinga were holding knives, and Elena Lopez was only armed with a bike lock. That makes six shootings in less than 10 days, causing five deaths. The LAPD has yet to list the Eagle Rock killing on its website, and the only bodycam footage released for any of these shootings has been for the shooting at the Burlington.
The shooting at the Burlington on Victory Boulevard has received national media attention, in part due to Orellana-Peralta’s family’s devastating account of the day their daughter was killed. The display of the LAPD’s brutality in its own video compilation of the incident has fueled further outrage. LAPD did not comment for this article.
Before December 28, 2021, Officer Jones Jr. maintained a steady presence online across several accounts, including some associated with what appear to be business ventures and charities. However, shortly after Knock LA reporters Jon Peltz and Cerise Castle began calling to ask questions about these posts, they were scrubbed from the internet. The North Hollywood Division of the LAPD has also begun a purge of its online presence, going as far as to delete its entire Twitter account. The account was later restored, however, posts from May 31 onward have been removed.
In a now-deleted article in the University of Louisville News, Jones Jr. shared that he was born in Louisville and that he “[grew] up in the west end of Louisville poor.” He attended the University of Louisville, but left in 2006 before completing his degree to “pursue a career in entertainment.” In 2009 he decided to join LAPD, and graduated in March 2010 in Class 10/09, according to his now-deleted Twitter.
According to Jones, he spent eight years on patrol, including a stretch in Venice, and worked as a community relations officer from at least 2018 through 2020. In 2019, he was pictured at an event for the North Hollywood division’s Community Relations Office park mural with City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who oversees the district where the site of the shooting is located.
In January of 2020, according to his now-deleted Twitter account, he took a leave due to a knee injury, returning in February of this year. During his time away from the station, Jones Jr. got active on Twitter. He chatted about what he was watching on Netflix, posted photos of a vacation to Greece during the early days of the pandemic, and argued with activists. When people across the globe took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd, Jones Jr. tweeted: “These are not peaceful protest [sic]. This is verbal and physical abuse against officers by citizens that continue to promote divisiveness and hate. A very volatile situation. ‘Be Better Than You Were Yesterday’ #OfficersForChange.”
He stated that he uses his “sworn #police powers to affect positive change (unbias [sic] policing & protection )” and tries “to live [his] life as a #black man that reflects Honor, Integrity, #Faith & Character.👮🏾♂️” He describes himself as “a black man, I’m the father of a black son, I’ve been the vict [sic] of racism. I’m the LAPD … Im a proud member of the #thinblueline & to me & 99% of all LEOs around the 🌎! #OfficersForChange.”
When a San Bernardino police officer brutally wrestled a man to the ground and shot him multiple times in the back, Jones Jr. tweeted the video, saying the man had refused to comply. When police in the LAPD’s Devonshire division shot a man in November of 2020, Jones Jr. offered prayers for the peace officers who fired their weapons.
During a nationwide call to scrutinize violence perpetrated by law enforcement, Jones Jr. was determined to defend his law enforcement “brothers & sisters.” On September 13, 2020, Ricardo Muñoz, a young man with a mental illness, was shot and killed by a Lancaster police officer. His family has since filed a civil lawsuit. Jones Jr. defended the officer’s actions, stating, “Am I missing something?…He fired to stop the threat while retreating. That’s just my observation. Respectfully…”
Jones Jr. also spent some time online pontificating on politics. Days before the 2020 election he offered his support to racist voter ID laws, writing: “Just curious 🤔, why DON’T they check your ID when you vote? Did they check your ID or Driver’s License when you went to vote [sic].” When President Joe Biden won the election, he tweeted: “Your new normal is coming … Good Luck & God Bless to those who didn’t ask or vote for this. We’ll do the best we can, with what we’ve got. ‘To Protect and To Serve’ The line gets thinner…. #thinblueline #LAPD #America #USA.”
Jones Jr. appeared to be maintaining several ventures outside of LAPD, but it’s unclear if they ever amounted to anything besides paperwork. His nonprofit, Officers for Change, was given tax-exempt status in February 2021. Its mission is described as aiming to build strong relationships between police and the community. Jones Jr. told U of L News that he would mentor at-risk youth in low-income communities and “positively affect” the community — however, it’s unclear if the organization has completed any programming.
Jones Jr. also registered a business in March 2019 called Use of Force Fitness LLC, a fitness and apparel company. However, it was dissolved just over a year later, in December 2020.
Jones Jr. also coached for the Valencia High School football team under coach Larry Muir. It is unclear how long he has been coaching youth football. Valencia High School is on break and Coach Larry Muir and Principal Pete Getz did not return comment as of publication time.
Video was posted to the school’s Twitter account as recently as November 27, 2021, with Jones Jr. in the shot. The final game of the season was November 26, where the Valencia Vikings won their Division title. Jones can be seen celebrating in multiple reports. But despite his claimed connection with youth in the community, he would go on to take two young people’s lives in a matter of seconds just about one month later.
“I was legit shocked when I found out ‘Jones’ was THAT Jones. “Officer Niceguy. Freaking COACH Jones,” said Jason Bishop, who regularly chatted with Jones online. “Until that day I figured he’d be the LAST cop on the entire LAPD to go in guns blazing.”
According to LAPD, Lopez entered Burlington around 11 AM. He is visible on the store’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) system walking with his bike between the aisles. An employee ushers him to the escalator leading to the entrance. He is wearing what appear to be clothes from the store. Lopez stands in the mezzanine for a few minutes as customers enter and exit around him. He resumes walking with his bike and suddenly grabs at a woman. People continue to shop as he returns to the escalator to stand again. After a couple of minutes, he begins walking around the store, swinging the bike lock at different objects.
At least two people dialed 911 requesting assistance. One customer who did not know the address of the store incorrectly told a dispatcher that Lopez had a gun. Another woman called after briefly hearing from her mother that a man in the store was making threats.
While the first caller is speaking to emergency services, the operator is interrupted by a dispatch from a colleague who had spoken to a store employee. On a separate call with emergency services, that worker calmly instructs customers to evacuate while simultaneously describing Lopez and the bike lock. She also states that she and others are sheltering inside the store.
On CCTV, Lopez chases one person back toward the escalator, then follows a woman down it, tackling her to the ground at the bottom. They both get up and she picks up her hat, which has fallen off, while Lopez stands nearby. A third person descending the escalator gets into a brief tugging match with him as he tries to take their bag, but they are able to break away from him. His loosely buttoned pants fall and he steps out of them and his shoes, walking toward the exit. After a minute and a half outside, he quickly scampers back in.
Meanwhile, four police officers arrive on scene, their body cameras rolling. One preps a shotgun, referred to by the group in LAPD slang as a “tube.” The group is met by a store associate who describes Lopez and clearly states he has a bike lock and that people remain inside.
One officer armed with a less lethal weapon, another with a shotgun, and a third with a handgun move into the store. They shout commands as they move in formation and prepare to have Officer Jordan, who is armed with the less lethal, shoot Lopez. Lopez moves behind one woman still pushing a shopping cart through the aisles and hits her with the lock. He batters her repeatedly and drags her across the aisles.
Meanwhile, Jones rides to the scene in a car with his partner, who he tells to “pop the trunk” upon arriving at Burlington. Instead, Jones opens the trunk and removes what appears to be an M16 rifle, adorned with personal attachments, from a gun bag. After bystanders describe Lopez to Jones and his partner, Jones loads the rifle and swiftly moves into the store. He is the seventh officer on scene, and moves separate from the group moving in a tactical formation. Despite this, he attempts to take charge when he reaches the top of the escalator.
Jones pulls on the original officers’ shoulder, insisting, “Let me take point with the rifle.” Once he reaches the front of the group, another officer yells, “He’s hitting her with a lock,” and charges ahead toward Lopez, leaving the group behind.
Lopez moves away from the woman, who begins crawling toward the police. The other officers yell after Jones repeatedly, “Slow it down!” and “Hold up Jones, hold up!” Jones turns into the aisle where the woman is crawling, and fires repeatedly, killing Lopez. Another round passes through the wall behind Lopez, killing Valentina Orellana-Peralta. As Lopez lays dying, Jones approaches him, pointing his gun. Other officers scream, “Get on your fucking stomach!” and handcuff Lopez.
A Los Angeles law enforcement officer who reviewed the footage told Knock LA, “That is one hundred percent a shooting that should have never happened.”
Orellana-Peralta had recently moved to California from Santiago, Chile. At a tearful press conference marred by police sirens, her father, Juan Pablo Orellana-Larenas, described her as a bright young girl who was looking forward to attending a Lakers game with him. She had also recently discovered skateboarding, and was excited to ride one for the first time.
Orellana-Peralta was at the store with her mother shopping for clothes for Christmas. Both were in the fitting room when Jones fired his gun. In Spanish, her mother, Soledad Peralta, described “white powder coming out of Valentina’s body. And she started having convulsions… Her body went limp. I tried to wake her up by shaking her, but she didn’t wake up… She died in my arms, and there was nothing I could do.”
Peralta began screaming for help, which is audible on the officers’ body-worn cameras. “When the police finally came, they took me out of the dressing room, and left my daughter laying there,” Peralta said. “I wanted them to help her, but they just left her laying there alone.”
LAPD confirmed that the officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave. The incident is now being investigated by LAPD’s Force Investigation Division, the inspector general’s office, and the California Department of Justice’s California Police Shooting Investigation Team for Southern California.
The US Department of Justice investigates officer shootings under provisions of Assembly Bill 1506, which requires the office to look into police shootings that end with the death of an unarmed person. But from a historical perspective, law enforcement officers in the Los Angeles area are rarely criminally charged for on-duty shootings. In 2018, Luke Liu, a former sheriff’s deputy who killed an unarmed motorist, became the first law enforcement officer to be charged since 2000. He was acquitted this past November.
As calls for justice rise again, Orellana-Larenas made one thing clear: “Justice for my daughter is all these criminals out, top to bottom.”
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Pete Getz as “Steve Getz” and Rosendo Olivio Jr. as “Resedio Oliver Jr.” Knock LA regrets the errors.
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