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Criminal Justice

CA Attorney General Charges Ex-LAPD Officer With Voluntary Manslaughter in Fatal Costco Shooting

A father mother and grown son, all dressed in patterned blue shirts, stand inside Universal Studios theme park. Banners behind them tout Halloween Horror Nights.
Kenneth French (right) and his parents at Universal Studios Hollywood.
(Courtesy Rick Shureih)
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In a highly unusual move, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that his office has filed voluntary manslaughter charges against a former LAPD officer who fatally shot a man who had intellectual disabilities inside a Corona Costco in June 2019.

Salvador Sanchez, 42, was arrested in Riverside Monday morning, according to a statement issued by Bonta’s office. Sanchez also faces two charges of assault with a semiautomatic weapon for seriously wounding both of French’s parents. All three charges are felonies.

Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin had referred the case to a grand jury, which declined to file charges against Sanchez. Hestrin declined to pursue the case further.

"It would be disingenuous of me to take a case to the grand jury, present it, and then say, 'Well, thank you very much, I am not going to abide by what your decision is,'" he said after the grand jury's decision.

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Where there’s reason to believe a crime has been committed, we will seek justice.
— California Attorney General Rob Bonta

In filing the charges, the attorney general said he was acting under Article V of the California Constitution, which gives him the power to file charges in a local case when he concludes that the law “is not being adequately enforced.”

“Where there’s reason to believe a crime has been committed, we will seek justice,” Bonta said in the statement. “That’s exactly what these charges are about: pursuing justice after an independent and thorough review of the evidence and the law.”

“Ultimately, any loss of life is a tragedy and being licensed to carry a gun doesn’t mean you're not accountable for how you use it,” Bonta said. “No matter who you are, nobody is above the law.”

Read The Complaint

In June 2020, the L.A. Police Commission found the shooting out of policy. Sanchez left the force a month later.

Sanchez was off duty when he killed Kenneth French, 32, and wounded French’s parents, 58-year-old Russell and 59-year-old Paola, while they were shopping at Costco. French struck Sanchez in the head while he was holding his 18-month-old son as they were standing in a food-tasting line.

The off-duty officer and his son fell to the ground. Sanchez fired almost immediately — less than 3.8 seconds after being struck by French, according to investigators. It remains unclear whether French intentionally or accidentally hit Sanchez. His intellectual disability left him unable to communicate verbally and made him awkward sometimes in public, according to his parents.

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