When William Dorsey Jones Jr. first arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago, he was like many others who had come before him: he hoped to find work in the entertainment business. He even went so far as to form his own firm, Entourage Entertainment Group, to further his career.
However, when those ambitions did not materialise, Mr. Jones went on to work as a community relations expert and patrol officer in the North Hollywood neighbourhood, a job he really enjoyed. According to his posts on social media, he seemed to have a sense of responsibility as a Black police officer to face the problems of racism and policing head-on.
He was the founder and director of an organisation that mentored at-risk youngsters and served as an assistant football coach for a high school football team. Earlier this month, he took a vehicle loaded with gifts to a local elementary school to distribute to the children.
Nevertheless, on the day before Christmas Eve, Mr. Jones became the latest victim of an all-too-familiar scenario of American policing: a rapid-fire tactical operation in a store that had been filled with holiday shoppers at one time, which resulted in the deaths of two unarmed citizens.
He was the one who shot and killed the guy, Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, on Thursday after responding to 911 calls about a man threatening customers at a clothes shop in North Hollywood with a hefty bike lock, Mr. Jones’ attorney revealed on Thursday afternoon. When one of the officer’s bullets bounced off the floor and through a wall, it struck and killed Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, who was hiding in a dressing room with her mother when the incident occurred.
Several 911 callers reported that the assailant had a gun and had fired shots when officers arrived at the Burlington clothing store. A store employee had called 911 to report that customers were being attacked with a bike lock, but other callers reported that the assailant had a gun and had fired shots, according to police.
Mr. Jones can be seen sprinting past his fellow police with his rifle drawn in body camera video published this week, despite repeated calls from his colleagues to “slow down” and “hold up.”
It was just seconds after the cops came upon a lady with a bleeding head who had been attempting to get away from Mr. Elena Lopez that Mr. Jones opened fire on her, according to the videotape. In the dressing room, where Ms. Orellana Peralta and her mother were hiding, an agonised howl echoed through the air, causing Mr. Elena Lopez to fall to the ground.
It was just a few days ago that Mr. Jones’s name and badge number started making the rounds on social media. During a press conference on Tuesday, during which Ms. Orellana Peralta’s family spoke, a member of the audience brandished a placard depicting Mr. Jones’s uniformed photo. The words “WANTED” were written over the photograph.
As part of this effort, Mr. Jones deleted his digital trace, which included the Twitter accounts he used for his organisation, his coaching business, and his law enforcement employment. Through the use of digital archives, he was able to retrieve some of his tweets, which included descriptions of racism he had seen as well as his goals for improving the work of the Police Department and its relationships with the community.
Mr. Jones described himself as having come from a “modest home” in a biography on the website of the University of Louisville, where he had gone to college after growing up in Kentucky. His mother, Toya J. Brazley, did a variety of occupations to support her three kids’ upbringing. His father, William D. Jones, Sr., was employed in the insurance industry.
Mr. Jones dropped out of college in 2006 and relocated to Los Angeles, a metropolis that is eight times the size of his native city of Dallas. His first goal, according to the article, was to make it big in the entertainment business. When he joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 2009, he developed a new passion for law enforcement. He enjoyed it, according to his attorney, since he has a tremendous desire to assist people.
Following his divorce, Mr. Jones married, had a son, and in 2015 bought a house in Santa Clarita, a hamlet in the foothills north of Los Angeles where middle-class families frequently travel to get a piece of suburban life.
Mr. Jones will complete the courses required for his communications degree from the University of Louisville in 2020. According to the police union, he and his wife established their non-profit, Officers for Change, in the same year, which dispersed contributions of backpacks and school supplies from their fellow officers to those in need.
Ms. Orellana Peralta’s parents characterised their daughter as a brilliant, kind young lady who wished to pursue a career as an engineer and become a citizen of the United States earlier this week. They appeared during a press conference outside the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters, where they were surrounded by their attorneys, who were headed by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has a national reputation.
In a statement, the officer’s attorney Ms. Wilcox said that all of the policemen who responded had had training on how to deal with such circumstances, and that Mr. Jones had been trying to preserve lives.