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At This Hour

Family of Teen Accidentally Killed by Police Demands Justice; Ohio Supreme Court Hears Challenges to New Congressional Map. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 29, 2021 - 11:30   ET


AMARA WALKER, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Valentina Orellana-Peralta's mother says, her daughter died in her arms as they hid in the store's dressing room when police opened fire on an assault suspect.


One of the bullets pierced the dressing room wall killing Valentina.

CNN's Josh Campbell live in Los Angeles with more. It was so painful to watch that mother talk about what she had to endure when those shots rang out and how her daughter died in her arms.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, tragic, just tragic all around. We were actually downtown at LAPD headquarters yesterday as the family addressed the public for the first time after the release of that video. And just seeing the anguish on their face, you can tell that this is a family that is in mourning, just unbelievable loss.

We heard from young Valentina's mother who was there with her in the dressing room that day recounting that experience. Have a listen.


SOLEDAD PERALTA, MOTHER OF TEEN IN ACCIDENTAL POLICE SHOOTING: And she died in my arms. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't do anything seeing a daughter or son die in your arms. It's one of the most profoundly painful things a human being can imagine. Valentina meant the world to me, to her family, friends, classmates and neighbors.


CAMPBELL: Now, of course, this all began last week at a department store in the Los Angeles area. Police received reports of a possible shots fired. There was a suspect going on a rampage throughout a department store, swinging a bike lock, assaulting people. Authorities tried to take down that threat after seeing him standing near a woman who was bloody. But, of course, that round, one of the rounds from that officer also piercing the wall killing young Valentina, obviously, a family that is now in mourning.

An attorney for the family says that they were looking into a possible lawsuit against the LAPD. The department wouldn't comment. But, finally, we have heard from the Los Angeles Police Union. They are speaking, saying that this is utter sorrow that they're experiencing. They're praying for Valentina's family. They're also praying, Amara, for that officer involved in the shooting, saying that officer is devastated. Amara?

WALKER: Josh Campbell, Thank you.

Joining me now is Rahul Ravipudi. He is an attorney for Valentina's mother. Thank you for joining us.

What really stuck out to me reading about what kind of young lady Valentina was, just her interest in getting good grades, wanting to become an engineer, but also the fact that she and her mother came here first from Chile six months ago in pursuit of the American dream. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how her family must be holding up now?

RAHUL RAVIPUDI, ATTORNEY FOR MOTHER OF TEEN ACCIDENTALLY KILLED IN POLICE SHOOTING: Thank you, Amara. Yes, Valentina came here. Her older sister lives here in Los Angeles, and came to pursue the American dream, go to a better education and actually was going to a fantastic school, was doing very well and had aspirations of getting into robotics and making a difference in people's lives. And her family, her mom and her dad, wanted to come to the United States and help her fulfill all of her dreams.

And so seeing that the center of their universe is now gone is something that they cannot get over and have not gotten over.

WALKER: No one goes to a department store thinking that they're going to be shot and killed, right? Valentina was inside that dressing room with her mother. They were trying on a dress. What was the occasion?

RAVIPUDI: Just for Christmas. It was obviously the day before Christmas eve. And I'm just thinking about myself. I was out in a department store at the same exact time. And so they were shopping and trying on a dress. And when the LAPD opened fire and took Valentina from her mother, from her arms, and that's the last time Soledad saw her daughter.

WALKER: Tell me more about this case. I know you've watched the body cam video that was released by the LAPD. Anything that stands out to you? What went wrong, in your opinion?

RAVIPUDI: Well, just watching it, just taking a step back, this shouldn't have happened. I think any reasonable person watching that video sees that there is no imminent threat of death to anybody at the time shots were fired, and shots were fired from an AR-15 assault rifle. This was a department store with people in it. The officers knew that there was a fitting room right behind that assailant. And so Valentina shouldn't have die on December 23rd.


Shots shouldn't have been fired. But the unfortunate thing that I'm seeing also is before even any of the footage was released, the narrative coming from the LAPD was not accurate. There were misstatements made by the police chief that were contradicted with the video that was produced.

WALKER: And what were those misstatements.

RAVIPUDI: And that's unfortunate.

Well, for one, Chief Moore said it would not known by the police officers that there would be anybody behind that wall where they shot. And you can hear the officers as they were approaching the area where they opened fire saying that that's where the fitting rooms are, go to the fitting rooms. So, why they would immediately before even releasing any of the footage start trying to defend the conduct of the officers in that way and falsely is unfortunate, but actually predictable.

WALKER: And, lastly, you're requesting more evidence, including the raw body cam footage. You believe there's more to be seen. What's the response been and what else do you hope to glean from this?

RAVIPUDI: Well, so there definitely is more to be seen. The LAPD will acknowledge that as well. There hasn't been any of the full production of all the Burlington factory surveillance footage as well. And so there's definitely more there. And through that, we're going to actually be able to see the full truth of what happened and what transpired over there, which is important for the family.

We want transparency, and we want accountability, and neither of those things can happen until there's information provided and none has been yet.

WALKER: Rahul Ravipudi, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

RAVIPUDI: No, thank you.

WALKER: Coming up, a pediatrician answers your coronavirus questions on how best to keep your children safe as they head back to school. That's next.



WALKER: So, the holiday break is winding down for millions of Americans as students prepare to return to school in the New Year. Many parents have questions about how to best protect their children right now.

So, joining me now to answer some of your questions is Dr. Almaz Dessie. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Dessie, let's get right to it, some of these viewer questions. Amanda asks, why does everyone keep saying schools are safe? It depends on the school's attention to masking and testing. Mine is not safe. What do you say to that?

DR. ALMAZ DESSIE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Amara, thank you so much for having me today. I understand this is a time where a lot of parents are really scared about this contagious omicron variant. But parents should be reassured that we have a year's worth of data that shows that transmission in schools is really low.

So, schools are safe. And as parents, we can do what we can to prevent transmission in schools, and that includes really effecting high quality masks for your children. This is the time to really make sure you get a fitted mask, multilayer mask or mask with a filter and make sure you practice that at home so your kid feels comfortable wearing that at school, as well as practicing hand washing and other behaviors that can keep your kids safe. And most importantly, in the next few days before school starts again, if your child is eligible for the vaccine, they're five years and older and they have not been vaccinated for the COVID vaccine, they need to get that as soon as possible.

So, use these last few days to get the vaccine or get the second dose or booster if your child is eligible. And know that, overall, the small risk of contracting COVID in schools is far lower than the consequences of not being in school for kids.

WALKER: Then just quickly, because my daughter is under five, ineligible to be vaccinated, she's in school starting in January again. They're required to wear masks. But all her classmates are not vaccinated. Omicron is extremely contagious. Is it safe?

DESSIE: It is safe. I try to think of this similar to other respiratory viruses. We have the flu. We have other viruses that go around schools. It's possible that kids will transmit it to each other, but that transmission is pretty low overall and the risk of the virus itself in terms of hospitalizations for children is really low. So, just continue to wear good quality masks. And as soon as that vaccine is available for your child, which maybe as early as January or February next year to go ahead and get it.

WALKER: Yes, absolutely. All right, now to David from New York who asks, in mid-January, my 16-year-old is scheduled to get a Pfizer booster because she was infected and presumably her immune system is boosted. Should she still get the booster as scheduled, not get it at all or get it at later time. And if so, when?

DESSIE: Great question. So, as far as getting the vaccine or the booster, you should not get the vaccine while you're ill with COVID. You want to be completely recovered, so asymptomatic and pass your isolation period before you get the vaccine or the booster. If you're still feeling sick, wait a few days or a week or so to get the booster. But if it's time for the booster and your child is feeling better, they should get the booster. So, get the complete series, the second dose, the booster, whenever they're scheduled for as soon as they're feeling better.

WALKER: So, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says that she hopes boosters will be available for those kids 12 to 15 in the days and weeks ahead. But Alisa says, well, why can't those under 16 get a booster?


My 15-year-old got his two shots six months ago and now has COVID. The rest of us got boosted and so far we continue to test negative.

DESSIE: Yes. I understand that urgency among families who really want to get our kids protected to the maximum that we can. I appreciate that. But we need to be sure that they get the booster when they need it. So, we don't have enough research yet on children and boosters. We can't just apply data from adults and immunity in adults to children. Children have different immune systems.

So, for now, if your child is 16 or over and they're eligible, it's been six months since their last shot, they should go ahead and get the booster. And if kids are 12 and older and they have -- immunocompromised for any reason, they have problems with their immune system, they're eligible for boosters too. And we're hopeful that that booster may be available for other children in the future just as soon as we have the data that shows it's necessary, effective and safe.

WALKER: Dr. Almaz Dessie, thank you so much for your expert advice.

DESSIE: My pleasure. Thank you.

WALKER: Coming up, Ohio Supreme Court is hearing arguments over redrawn congressional maps. But one of the justices may have a conflict of interest. We're going to discuss, next.



WALKER: Voting rights are becoming a big focal point heading into the New Year. Ohio Supreme Court is hearing challenges to the state's new Republican-drawn congressional map. Republicans argue the districts they've redrawn are competitive. Democrats say the map favors Republicans and hurts minority voters.


BEN STAFFORD, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING DEMOCRATS: So, if Ohio State every year has to spot Michigan a two-touchdown lead, it might make the game more competitive. The rules are set up to favor one team over the other, and that's exactly what they've done here with their supposedly competitive districts.


WALKER: One of these cases in front of the state supreme court is Adams versus DeWine, as in Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, whose son, Patrick, is one of the seven justices weighing the case. Justice DeWine, though, has not recused himself.

Joining me now is CNN Contributor and Republican Election Lawyer Ben Ginsberg. Thank you so much for joining me.

Let's talk about this because the justice told that since his father is one of five Republicans that approved the maps, he doesn't have an obligation to recuse himself. But, look, he could be the swing vote, right, I mean, because he's one of four Republican justices on the seven-member panel. Do you see a conflict of interest?

BEN GINSBERG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, conflicts of interest by supreme court justices, whether federal or state, are up to the justice to decide. In this case, the reason we're asking the question is it's a highly political case. And the reality of the Ohio Supreme Court is that all seven of the justices have some sort of a political background to them.

I doubt if Justice DeWine is the swing vote on this court, but the chief justice, who is also a Republican, probably is the swing vote.

WALKER: Okay, but in 2018, didn't Ohio voters approve a constitutional amendment to eliminate gerrymandering? So, how does that come into play now?

GINSBERG: Well, that's the big challenge for Republicans. They had a very good redistricting year in 2011. It was a pro-Republican map that was passed. As the chief justice, the potential swing vote, pointed out in the oral arguments yesterday, in fact, voters have spoken and perhaps they don't like the current map and that's why there were changes. So, that's where it is likely that this map will have its greatest challenges and where the court could rule against them.

Of course, what Ohio Republicans realized is that they kind of control this process all the way through. Even if the court throws out the map, it goes back to the legislature which Republicans control. If the legislature fails to decide on a map again, then it goes back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. That's where they are now. The supreme court is still 4-3 Republican. The United States Supreme Court has a conservative majority.

So, Ohio Republicans at the start of the decade will be as aggressive as they can in their first map and hope that it sticks.

WALKER: How do you see this playing out though? I mean, is it going to be difficult? I think you allude to that for the plaintiffs, the Democrats, to prove that this new map favors Republicans.

GINSBERG: Yes, I think it will be difficult for them to do it. It will be difficult for them to get the relief that they desire, again, because of the way the process is tilted towards Republicans because, ultimately, they won more elections and got to a point more judges.

Now, what Democrats in Ohio are saying is precisely what Republicans in Illinois are saying at the hand of a Democratic gerrymander, and what Republicans are saying in New Jersey and California after supposedly neutral redistricting commissions came up with new maps. So, what you're hearing in Ohio and the relief that's being sought is pretty traditional for the political minorities who don't like the map. WALKER: So, gerrymandering, I mean, this age-old way of drawing these boundaries to favor one political party, and many times in many cases heavily for the Republicans, I mean, that's so undemocratic, right?


And as a whole, as we look to 2022, we know, you know, the Biden administration has prioritized voting rights. Can you talk quickly just about the state of voting rights and what this means for 2022?

GINSBERG: Look, our system of choosing districts has been established to favor the party that does best at the ballot box in the preceding elections. So, Democrats had 40 years of unfettered control, unbroken control of the U.S. Congress from 1950s to the 1990s, you know? So, this has happened before in history. And, again, the party that does best at the ballot box in the year before redistricting is going to do best in redistricting because they'll have the most people.

As for voting rights, generally, redistricting is taking place across the country. Republicans had a better election in 2020 down ballot. They're in a better position.

WALKER: Got it. Well, we appreciate you so much joining us. Thank you so much for that, Ben Ginsberg.

Inside Politics is next. Phil Mattingly in for John King after this break.