15-Year-Old Latasha Harlins Killed Over a Bottle of Orange Juice

11 Posted by - July 10, 2022 - Injustices, LATEST POSTS

Latasha Harlins was a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed on March 16, 1991 by Soon Ja Du, a 51-year-old Korean store owner. Harlens was a student at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, California. Her death happened thirteen days after the videotape of the Rodney King beating was released.

Storeowner Du saw Harlins putting a bottle of orange juice in her backpack. She thought that the young girl was attempting to steal the bottle of juice, she did not see the money that Harlins had in her hand to pay for the juice. Du grabbed at Harlins by the sweater in attempt to snatch her backpack, but Harlins struck Du three times with her fist, allegedly knocking her to the ground. After Harlins backed away from Du. Du picked up a stool and threw it at her. Harlins then picked up the orange juice that dropped during the scuffle, and threw it on the counter and turned to leave the store. That is when Du reached under the counter to retrieve a handgun. She then fired at 15-year-old Harlins from behind at a distance of about three feet, shot her in the back of her head, killing her instantly.

Du’s husband, Billy Heung Ki Du, heard the shot and rushed into the store and called 911. Harlins died with two dollars in her left hand. Du claimed self-defense and testified that she felt her life was in danger. However, there were contradictory statements of two witnesses who were present at the time and the security camera footage that showed Du shooting Harlins in the back of the head leaving the store. The Los Angeles police department ballistics expert report also found that the handgun Du used had been altered in such a way that, compared to an ordinary handgun, much less pressure on the trigger was necessary to result in firing.

On November 15 1991 the jury found Du guilty of voluntary manslaughter with a 16-year prison sentence recommendation, believing that Du’s shooting was fully within her control and she fired the gun voluntarily. The presiding judge, Joyce  Karlin reduced the sentence to probation of five years, four hundred hours of community service, and a $500.00 fine.





  • Al Hill II February 25, 2016 - 11:22 am

    Wow I remember this incident, what a tragedy & miscarriage of justice

    • Nels Harrod June 17, 2019 - 12:02 pm

      I lived there and blacks were out of control being violent with all Koreans and anyone not black, the Korean woman just snapped and couldn’t take it anymore and thats why no one starts little stores in black areas, they are always stealing, and no one puts juice or what everbin their nap sack out of sight if they are gonna buy the product, the clerk has to know what it is your buying to charge the proper amount.

      • A Bennett July 10, 2019 - 8:35 pm

        You cannot be serious. A bottle of juice has been proven to be worth more than this child’s life was and this is what you contribute to the conversation?

        • Masked Marvyl August 9, 2019 - 12:39 pm

          Yes, Nels, “she just snapped and couldn’t take it anymore”. You know this store owner’s personal history of blacks leading up to that point. She shot a teenager in the back of the head who was leaving the store (not the leg, or the arm, which would have wounded her and incapacitated her, but the back of the head) and murdered her, because she just “snapped”.
          You a big dummy, Nels.

        • Bonita Taylor September 9, 2019 - 5:29 pm

          Are you serious…are you seriously trying to justify that girl being murdered?? I was in California at the time & they showed the footage of the tape. That’s not exactly how it happened. She was upset because Latasha defended herself after owner hit her & began walking out. Please watch it 1st before defending murder (an execution)!

      • Sadnews July 14, 2019 - 5:41 pm

        Your comment is not surprising. Where I live White is always stealing, but the media damn sure doesn’t put that information in the news.

      • Elvis Sanchez July 25, 2019 - 1:01 pm

        People who think like you are very narrow minded. You don’t consider the plight of Blacks and what they have had to endure as a race. Consider slavery and its generational effects. Consider the marginalization they endure in education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and even driving. Consider the introduction of cocaine to the Black community by the CIA to fund Latin American skirmishes. Consider the constant prejudice and petty 911 calls for simply being Black. Consider their disproportionate prison population. How a people with such little opportunities are treated in this country is shameful. Nothing could ever possibly justify the killing of Latasha Harlins for a bottle of orange juice. In memory of Latasha I purchased the domain latashaharlins.com and I welcome anyone who could help me pay tribute to the child by establishing her website. God Bless.

        • Wayne F December 5, 2020 - 5:20 pm

          Other races have suffered in world history and doesn’t justify committing crime(s) and subjecting others who are abiding by the laws of the land to bear the brunt of their vindictiveness. Consider taking ownership of ones own accountability and responsibility for their own actions. Born as a certain race or visible minority doesn’t give people a LICENSE to break laws or have anarchy. Anybody that uses previous hardships or prejudices as a shameless excuse to justify violence and destruction in your own communities perpetrated upon citizens who appear to be a persecuted race is a danger to themselves and others and should NOT expect sympathy or respect for criminal behavior. Better yourselves and raise your children in a Godly manner, or you’ll reap what you have sown. Everyone has to abide by the same laws and God is no respecter of persons as He resists the proud and gives mercy to the humble. If you love your neighbour as yourself you will not steal from your neighbour. May Yahuah Bless You.

      • Kay August 16, 2019 - 10:13 am

        You couldn’t be serious

        • Kay August 16, 2019 - 10:14 am

          @ *Nels

      • Nekeela legros April 22, 2020 - 12:22 am

        shut up you do not know what we go through like your siding with a killer people today gosh.

      • TT September 24, 2020 - 9:53 am

        Wow, this is your response?!?! First of all, lets’ not address anyone of an African decent by saying “the BLACKS”. Now that that is clear, her life is worth more than whatever the amount of that bottle of orange juice cost. I’m sure if the table was turned and this was one of your family members, you would have a different response and /or reaction. Regardless of what she did, she’s still a little girl and human. AND because of your response, I now know that you are apart of the problem.

  • Eric Harrell July 16, 2017 - 4:52 am

    Just wrong on so many levels. A kid shot dead from behind, the shooter set free with a light sentence and a judge that made it happen. Nothing says justice at all in this story.

    • Nikki July 2, 2019 - 12:17 am

      At it funny how when it is a darker skin person no one has sympathy but now you can go in about any store and buy bags to conceal your items in while shopping. The bags you purchace at the counter for about two dollars with all types of designs on them. Now if Becky return back to the store and put something in her bag. She is considered misguided but a black child is a thief and desrves to die. Thats why the bible speaks that only a choosen few shall enter the kingdom of heaven and for those who think this world belongs to them. Shall your soul remain

  • Jikes October 21, 2017 - 7:13 am

    Just 5 years. This is, sad

    • gj February 13, 2018 - 6:06 am

      no 5 yrs probation no custody

    • RENA September 11, 2019 - 7:32 pm



      • Wayne F December 5, 2020 - 5:28 pm

        Thou shall NOT STEAL…!

        What part of that commandment do you NOT understand???

        That little girl, 15 yrs is not little, assaulted the other lady punching her 3 times.

        The store lady’s intent was not to kill but to stop and was excessive and should be punished.

    • Rashan Brown Mello January 10, 2020 - 1:04 pm

      Wow…This is sad!That was someone’s child.5 yrs.ain’t nothing for taking a life.If it was the other way around the black person would of been on death row.No questions asked.These IGNORANT people have no respect for life’ that have these stupid comments.This is really sad over a O.J.

  • Taffy August 14, 2018 - 6:31 pm

    I don’t understand her putting the OJ in her back pack before paying it. However this doesn’t excuse the store owner for murdering her in cold blood. She should have gotten 25 years to life.

  • Willis Pullen 3rd November 30, 2018 - 6:34 am

    She was attempting to pay for that. Deportation not enough. This along with Rodney started the 92’ Riots. Terrible time in LA.

  • Markeithe Jackson December 5, 2018 - 5:43 pm

    I never understood that either. It didn’t make any sense. I guess she was just young and silly. They were gangs and other youngsters robbing their store around that time and I guess the lady thought she was stealing. She was so blind sighted about the money being in the girl’s hand that she racially profiled her and killed her.

  • Markeithe Jackson December 5, 2018 - 5:46 pm

    Yes I agree. My mother was in court when Karlin got rid of the sentence. Then, the acquittal of those 4 officers. April 29, 1992, what a year and day smh

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  • Ron Walker May 23, 2019 - 8:31 am

    I just want to say that the murder of Latasha Harlins was uncalled for. Maybe I’m wrong, but to me it seems like the store owner was a little trigger happy in this incident. If Latasha would have held a gun on her then that would have been a different story, but the fact that she DIDN’T…then that is obvious. I believe the store owner was embarrassed that this young lady was whooping her behind in the little tussle they had right before the shooting. Soon Ja Du doesn’t know it, but if she don’t REPENT for what she done to this young lady then she’s going to pay dearly for this violent crime, she knows she was wrong for what she done to this girl. There’s no real justification for the shooting.

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  • […] is not only built upon the turmoil and unrest from the 1992 Los Angeles riots but also based on a real case many have probably never heard of. Following a Korean American family (mostly through Grace, the youngest dutiful daughter) and a […]

  • […] the Los Angeles uprising of 1992 precipitated not just by the Rodney King beating, but also by the murder of 15-year old Latasha Harlins for allegedly stealing a $1.79 carton of orange juice–that the police found she hadn’t […]

  • […] is not only built upon the turmoil and unrest from the 1992 Los Angeles riots but also based on a real case many have probably never heard of. Following a Korean American family (mostly through Grace, the youngest dutiful daughter) and a […]

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  • […] She started to stroll away. That was when Du reached beneath the counter to retrieve a handgun. She fired at 15-year-old Harlins from behind at a distance of about three toes, shot her behind her head, killing her immediately, reviews Blackthen. […]

  • […] She began to walk away. That was when Du reached under the counter to retrieve a handgun. She fired at 15-year-old Harlins from behind at a distance of about three feet, shot her in the back of her head, killing her instantly, reports Blackthen. […]

  • […] She began to walk away. That was when Du reached under the counter to retrieve a handgun. She fired at 15-year-old Harlins from behind at a distance of about three feet, shot her in the back of her head, killing her instantly, reports Blackthen. […]