A rally was held in Echo Park on Saturday to remember a woman who was killed by LAPD officers during a standoff with a gunman at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.
July 22 marks the five-year anniversary since Melyda “Mely” Corado, the 27-year-old Trader Joe’s manager who was shot and killed in a 2018 shootout between two Los Angeles police officers and 28-year-old Gene Atkins, the gunman who had barricaded inside the grocery store.
Mely’s family held the rally to remember the woman while calling for the LAPD to take responsibility for her death and implement changes to the way law enforcement tackles similar incidents.
On July 21, 2018, Atkins allegedly shot his grandmother multiple times at their home in South L.A. and then kidnapped his girlfriend as he escaped in his grandmother’s car.
He led LAPD officers on a pursuit through Hollywood and Silver Lake before crashing just outside the Trader’s Joe store on Hyperion Avenue. After crashing into a pole, the suspect exited his car and engaged in a shootout with police.
Witnesses at the scene said people fled the store in a panic as officers struggled to make contact with Atkins. Shoppers and workers who couldn’t flee the store were held hostage inside.
As Mely ran toward the store’s entrance upon hearing the car crash, she was shot and killed by two officers firing at the store, officials said. Authorities said the officers did not see Mely and believed the area to be clear of bystanders at the time.
Since Mely’s death, her family has called the shooting “reckless” and attorneys for her family say police failed to follow the department’s deadly force policy when they shot toward a crowded grocery store.
Mely’s family said in the years since, the LAPD has yet to provide information on an internal investigation of the events that unfolded that day. Loved ones are still upset over the department’s lack of transparency and accountability.
“We have basically nothing of substance,” said Albert Corado, Mely’s brother. “They basically said this happened. We did it. We’re sort of sorry, but also there’s someone else who’s responsible and you should take it up with them and that’s kind of where we’re at with that.”
At the time, police did not know Mely had been struck by gunfire for about 18 minutes when the suspect, Atkins, told an LAPD negotiator that she had been hit.
After a three-hour-long negotiation, Atkins was finally taken into custody. The incident left two other women injured with gunshot wounds and six people were transported to the hospital.
Atkins has since been charged with murder in Mely’s death along with several other criminal counts.
The two officers were later determined to have acted lawfully when they opened fire and were not faced with criminal charges in Mely’s death.
“The fact that Corado was struck accidentally by Tse’s [the officer’s] gunfire is tragic, however, it does not negate the lawfulness of the officers’ actions in using deadly force to stop a dangerous fleeing felon,” according to a 2020 report from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
As the family continues calling for action and accountability, their lives remain forever changed by the massive loss Mely’s death has created in their lives.
“Going out to dinner and seeing the empty seat, not being able to tell Mely about all the great things I’ve been able to do, all the new and amazing people I’ve met, the times I’ve fallen in love, I don’t get to share that with her,” Albert said. “I don’t get to share my pain with her or look forward to the future with her.”
Mely’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD and a trial is scheduled for October.
KTLA reached out to LAPD for a statement but was told they aren’t able to comment on pending litigation.