amphotora/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A California grand jury will not indict an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man inside a Costco, officials announced Wednesday.
Officer Salvador Sanchez, a member of LAPD’s Southwest Division, shot and killed the man and injured two other members of his family inside the store on June 14, police said.
Sanchez shot at the family after an argument ensued at the Costco in Corona, according to police, after the officer was assaulted “without provocation” by a 32-year-old man while he was holding his young child.
Sanchez then opened fire and struck the man, later identified as Kenneth French, from Riverside.
French was struck four times and his parents were also shot in the incident.
Sanchez suffered minor injuries as a result of the confrontation, police said.
Following the incident, Sanchez was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Sanchez’s attorney, Ira Salzman, told ABC News last month that his client “reasonably” believed his and his son’s lives were in danger.
It “wasn’t a little bump in a supermarket aisle,” Salzman said, alleging that Kenneth French hit Sanchez “so hard” that he suffered a concussion.
Sanchez then withdrew his weapon and fired, “aiming right at Mr. French, who was the threat to him,” Salzman said.
French’s family believes he suffered from schizophrenia, but he had been taken off his medication due to other health complications, which may have affected his behavior that night.
His parents, Russell and Paola French, said their son was unable to communicate with Sanchez.
“I begged and told him not to shoot,” Russell French said. “I said we have no guns and my son is sick. He still shot.”
“Our first-born son was a peaceful and loving soul throughout all 32 years of his life. He was caring, helpful and gentle, never aggressive…to anybody at anytime,” French’s mother said at a press conference last month.
The family was shopping in preparation for the upcoming Father’s Day holiday the day French was killed.
The case was submitted to the grand jury on Sept. 9 and determined that no charges should be filed, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The DA said the case was taken to the grand jury after witnesses refused to cooperate with investigators and issued subpoenas to force them to testify before jurors.
Sanchez’s injury to his head as a result of the confrontation with French was likely a key component in the decision not to indict, according to Hestrin.
“One of the pieces of information that I think was uncontroverted was that the off-duty officer was struck by Kenneth French … and he went down as he was holding his infant child,” Hestrin told a news conference. “And it all happened very fast, about less than four seconds from the moment that [French] struck to the moment that [Sanchez] fired.”
Sanchez believed there was an active shooter situation and reached behind his head to check for blood multiple times, witnesses testified.
The current status of Sanchez’s role with the LAPD is unclear. The LAPD was conducting an internal investigation to determine if Sanchez followed department policies during the shooting.
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