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LAPD Killed a Latina Working at a Trader Joe’s Two Years Ago. Her Family Wants the Officers Held Accountable

6:13 PM PDT on July 20, 2020

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] wave of sunflowers and hundreds of people marched to the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s on Sunday, nearly two years after Mely Corado was shot and killed by an LAPD officer while she was working during a shootout outside the market.

Last year, Mely’s father and brother, Albert Corado Sr. and Albert Corado Jr., dedicated a mural inside the market where she worked.

On Sunday, her brother was joined by a large crowd who filled out the grocery store parking lot and spilled out onto Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake. He said, “It has been a tough two years. I knew after the first year, we would not only be the grieving family of Mely but go out there and try to fight for her.”

Albert Corado Jr. said it was painful for him during that time. “I lost my best friend. Truly that’s what it was. I lost the person I love the most in the world,” he said before the crowd. Later he added, “I also want you to remember and to realize that Mely was killed because the LAPD was trying to kill a Black [person.]”

“That’s why I wanted to finish this march here. Not just because Mely died here, but the people who live here, the rich white people who prop up the cops, I want you to know they don’t give a fuck about you either.” On July 21, 2018, after a high-speed pursuit that ended outside the market, two police officers fired toward the Trader Joe’s entrance as Gene Atkins ran into the store after he crashed his car on Hyperion Avenue. Atkins shot two people at his south L.A. home earlier in the day. He fled into the grocery store after he crashed his car right outside where two years later hundreds gathered to honor Mely Corado.

Initially, the LAPD said Atkins’ shot and killed 27-year-old Mely. Witnesses in the store say Mely heard the crash and ran outside into the shootout. Later, police confirmed officers Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans fired the fatal shot that killed Mely, but prosecutors charged Atkins with Mely’s murder, much to the dismay of her family. Police shot and killed a woman of color in the affluent L.A. neighborhood of Silver Lake and later found that the officers followed department policy during the shootout as they fired at a suspect who was in front of a grocery store on a Saturday afternoon.

Albert Corado, Sr. says it has been two years since his daughter died and he still does not have answers about her death. “The police officers that killed Mely have to be charged. Simple as that,” said her father on Sunday, surrounded by sunflowers and pictures of his daughter. “Everybody is asking for justice. One way or another. Not only in this country but in other countries. We’re awake.”

There’s a difference between Mely and other victims of police violence he says.

“Mely wasn’t resisting arrest. Mely wasn’t fighting the police. Mely wasn’t being chased....She was at work,” says Albert Corado, Sr. “That is the difference. Therefore, we demand justice for Mely. She was a victim. Not a suspect when she was killed.” Police presence at the march was minimal save for an LAPD helicopter that circled overhead and an officer who scoped out the rally outside the northeast police station.

Organizers traveled from the police station where Albert Corado Sr. says he was brought after his daughter was killed to the market where she worked and where Atkins held customers and Trader Joe’s employee’s hostage for several hours that summer day two years ago. The march and rally were celebratory and energized with people carrying Defund the Police and Black Lives Matter signs, along with images of Mely and sunflowers that ebbed and flowed along Hyperion Avenue.

Melina Abdullah, Black Lives Matter L.A. co-founder, said Chief Michel Moore has Mely's blood on his hands. 

“He has the blood of all these folks who died on his watch. You know who else has blood on her hands? Jackie Lacey has blood on her fucking hands," said Abdullah, who led a chant to vote out the sitting District Attorney, who is up for re-election this November. 

Albert Corado Jr. said the march was about sending a message to elected officials.

“This is also about sending a message to Eric Garcetti, David Ryu, Mitch O’Ferrell, Jackie Lacey, and anybody who supports the cops. When the LAPD is free to do what it likes when they can kill people without repercussions, it mobilizes the community,” he said. “If we’re able to mobilize, educate everybody about why we need to abolish the police they stand no chance against us.”

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