Mother: Child's Death in Shootout Left “Soul Empty”

The mother of a 19-month-old girl accidentally  killed by Los Angeles police SWAT members during a shootout initiated by the  toddler's father testified Tuesday that the loss left her with her "soul  empty."

Lorena Lopez took the stand in Los Angeles Superior Court in the second  week of trial of her wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the city.

Her daughter Suzie died in the arms of 35-year-old Jose Raul Pena as  both were shot to death by police during a rescue attempt inside the business  office of Raul's Auto Sales in Watts on July 10, 2005.

Pena was Lopez's boyfriend and the father of her daughter.

"It was a very big tragedy which left my soul empty," the 41-year-old  woman testified with the help of a Spanish-language interpreter.

Lopez, who filed her suit in December 2005, originally named Chief  William Bratton and several officers as co-defendants along with the city. Her  lawyers dropped the officers from the case before trial and today did the same  with the chief, along with resting their case.

Lopez testified that officers met with her outside her home just north  of Pena's business about 3 p.m. that day, more than three hours before the  fatal shootings occurred.

She said she was outside her home pleading with officers, "My daughter  is inside, my daughter is inside," when one of the officers waved his gun in  the air and told her to go indoors.

"I was feeling very desperate," Lopez said.

She said she met Pena in 1997 and that they began living together a year  later. She said she works as a maid and bought her 104th Street home, where  she still lives, in 1999.

Two bullets initially struck Pena, and his toddler was also shot twice,  according to the LAPD. The fatal bullet went through the girl's head, while a  second, superficial wound punctured her lower left leg.

Before the fatal shootings, police were able to rescue Lopez's other  daughter, Ilsy, who is now 20.

Lopez also has two sons, Carlos and Ronald, now ages 22 and 18,  respectively, and said the younger man wants to be a sheriff's deputy. 

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