Ex-LA officer to be tried in shooting of mentally ill man

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A former Los Angeles police officer who was off duty when he fatally shot a mentally ill man during a confrontation at a Costco store must stand trial on manslaughter and other charges, a judge ruled.

Salvador Sanchez, who was a seven-year veteran of the LAPD at the time of the shooting in 2019, was charged by California’s attorney general after Riverside County prosecutors declined to file charges.

Sanchez has pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of an assault with a firearm.

Sanchez was with his young son at a Costco in Corona when he was knocked to the ground from behind by 32-year-old Kenneth French. Sanchez opened fire, fatally wounding French and critically injuring French’s parents, Russell and Paola French.

Sanchez had told investigators he believed French had a gun and that his life was in danger. Authorities said French was not armed and was moving away from Sanchez when the officer opened fire.

Kenneth French was nonverbal and had recently been taken off his medication for mental illness due to other health issues, the family’s lawyer previously said, adding that the change may have affected his behavior that night.

During Monday’s preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz Jr. set Sanchez’s re-arraignment for Aug. 29.

Sanchez’s attorney, Michael D. Schwartz, said there is a far lower standard of proof required at preliminary hearings than at trials.

“If these cases have shown us anything historically, it’s that people should withhold any determination until all the facts come out at trial,” Schwartz told the Southern California News Group.

Last October, a jury in a lawsuit trial awarded $17 million to Russell and Paola French.

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruled that Sanchez had violated departmental policy in the shooting. He was terminated from the agency in 2020.

The French family’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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