RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Riverside County prosecutors are reviewing the Corona Police Department's report on the fatal shooting of a developmentally disabled man at a Costco store by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, but a decision is still pending.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin told City News Service that Corona police detectives submitted the case file without a specific recommendation, leaving it to the D.A.'s office to make an unbiased determination based on the facts and findings.
Hestrin would not disclose the content of the report, and he was uncertain how long his team may need to spend analyzing it and conducting follow-up interviews with witnesses.
Salvador Sanchez, an LAPD Southwest Division patrol officer, has been on administrative leave since fatally shooting 32-year-old Kenneth French and wounding his parents, Russell and Paola French, in what Corona police investigators characterized as an act of self-defense on the night of June 14 inside the Costco at 480 N. McKinley St.
Conflicting stories emerged over the circumstances that led to the shooting, with the dead man's relatives calling for the lawman's arrest, and the officer's attorney insisting his client responded appropriately.
Kenneth French, whose mental impairment made him nonverbal, was in the freezer section of the store when he came into contact with Sanchez, according to witnesses.
Corona police previously said the off-duty officer was shopping with his family, holding his 18-month-old son in his arms, when, “without provocation, a male unknown to the officer's family assaulted the officer.”
According to the lawman's attorney, David Winslow, Sanchez was knocked to the floor and briefly lost consciousness. When he awoke, he found his son next to him, screaming. Winslow said his client “had no choice but to use deadly force.”
The French family's attorney, Dale Galipo, previously told reporters Kenneth French, who had recently been taken off of his medications for undisclosed reasons, pushed or shoved the officer in the back in a food-sample line, but he denied there was any deadly threat. He also said French's father tried to explain to the officer that his son was intellectually disabled.
Galipo called Sanchez's response “a complete over-reaction,” adding it was disturbing that, “if anyone other than an off-duty police officer had shot three unarmed civilians in a Costco, that person would be in jail and facing criminal charges for murder.”
Winslow, however, repudiated the “push or shove” description, saying French's action amounted to “a violent attack.”
The officer's son was not injured. Sanchez, who has been with the LAPD since May 2012, suffered minor injuries.
Rick Shureih, Kenneth French's cousin, posted on social media last week that Sanchez should be held accountable.
“This is a family that was unarmed and was just grocery shopping,” Shureih said. “The truth will come out! I'm sure this was a misunderstanding that got escalated for no reason!”