CORONA, Calif. - Relatives of a developmentally disabled man who was fatally shot by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer inside a Costco in Corona announced Wednesday the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in state court against the involved officer as well as the City of Los Angeles. The claim alleges that the LAPD officer used his position in law enforcement to influence the bystanders and eyewitnesses in the case.
“We should be holding our police officers to a higher standard, not a lower one. I thought no one was above the law. They're supposed to protect and serve, not kill and be protected,” said Kevin French, who was representing his family at Wednesday’s press conference.
“The filing of this lawsuit is a step towards getting justice,” Dale Galipo, an attorney for the French family, said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Galipo did not specify a damages amount being sought.
In September, District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced that no criminal charges would be filed against Officer Salvador Sanchez for the June 14 shooting death of 32-year-old Kenneth French.
Photo of Kenneth, Paola, and Russell French
Hestrin said prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury, which declined to indict officer Sanchez, adding that he stood by the grand jury's decision and didn't plan on filing his own charges.
• One killed in Corona Costco shooting involving off-duty LAPD officer
• Family: Man killed by off-duty officer in Costco shooting was nonverbal, had intellectual disability
• Attorney: Officer in Costco shooting was knocked unconscious before he fatally shot unarmed man
• Police commission declines to release video of fatal LAPD shooting of unarmed man at Costco
• Parents of Corona Costco shooting victim demand answers, surveillance video to be released
• 'I begged him not to shoot': Family of unarmed man killed by LAPD officer at Costco want criminal prosecution
• No criminal charges filed against LAPD officer who fatally shot unarmed man inside Corona Costco
French was killed when Sanchez opened fire inside the Costco store after what the officer's attorney described as a life-threatening assault by French. French's parents, Russell and Paola French, were also critically wounded in the shooting, police said.
Russell and Paola French hospitalized following Costco shooting
Sanchez, a Southwest Division patrol officer who has been with the police department since May 2012, had been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. It was unclear if he remained on leave following the grand jury's decision.
In a statement released back in June, the attorney for the off-duty officer said his client was getting a food sample for his 18-month-old son when he was attacked and knocked unconscious before awakening to find himself in a fight.
While announcing that the DA's office would not be filing charges, Hestrin said that he didn't believe that the officer was ever unconscious, but did say he believes that Sanchez believed that he had been shot.
“I believe, based on what I know, that he believed his life was in danger,” Hestrin said. “The officer thought he had been shot and believed there was an active shooter in front of him."
Galipo said during an August press conference that the shooting was not only unwarranted but “one of the most egregious shootings I have seen.''
According to a statement released in August by the French family, Russell and Paola claimed they tried to deescalate the situation by pleading with Sanchez, asking him not to shoot their son. They alleged that they informed the officer that their son suffered from an intellectual disability.
In a September press conference, Hestrin said he didn't say that there wasn't a problem with the shooting, but rather that "based on what the grand jury in Riverside County decided, there’s not going to be any state criminal charges.”