The parents of the mentally disabled man shot dead by an off-duty police officer in a California Costco spoke publicly for the first time Monday and recalled begging for their schizophrenic son’s life, according to the New York Daily News.
Russell and Paola French both suffered gunshot wounds when they tried to intervene and protect their son Kenneth French, 32, during the deadly June 14 incident, they confirmed.
The parents made their statements after LAPD officer Salvador Sanchez claimed he was holding his 1½-year-old son while checking out at the store when Kenneth violently attacked him.
“I told Officer Sanchez not to shoot twice. I even said please,” Paola said Monday, fighting back tears. “I was pleading for my son and our lives, but I was still shot in the back.”
Russell, who lost a kidney after the shooting and was just released from the hospital last week, said that the shooting was in no way justified.
“I begged and told him not to shoot. I said we had no guns and my son is sick…He still shot,” the dad said.
Family members weighed in without consideration for the attack that happened on the off-duty officer.
“I just can’t understand how someone can walk into a Costco, kill my brother, shoot both my parents, shoot my mom in her back, and then be able to go home that same night and sleep on their pillow,” brother Kevin French said.
The family members spoke out for the first time as they filed a claim against both Sanchez and the LAPD, in what is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit.
The family’s attorney, Dale Galipo, acknowledged Monday that Kenneth French likely delivered an “open-handed push or slap” to the officer’s back, but was adamant that it was not an attack.
He and his clients urged authorities to release surveillance footage and cellphone video from the scene and said Sanchez should face murder or manslaughter charges.
A Riverside County judge ordered the video sealed for one year due to the investigation.
Sanchez’s lawyer Ira Salzman said the officer was assaulted and “acting in self-defense.”
“It’s a horrible tragedy for both families,” Salzman said.
A Riverside County judge ordered the video sealed for one year due to the investigation. There has been no indication from prosecutors as to whether they will pursue criminal charges.
Corona police have said French attacked the officer without provocation.
A trained police officer should know how to deescalate that type of interaction before opening fire, “especially when you’re in Costco and there are children,” Galipo said.
Paola French called her son a “peaceful and loving soul.”
Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the force, remained on paid administrative leave Monday.
LET ran this story when it happened in June:
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An off-duty officer was involved in a shooting in a California Costco after a man inside the store allegedly assaulted him, according to a report from the New York Post.
One man was killed, and two others were reportedly injured in the situation on Friday.
According to multiple reports, an LAPD officer was off-duty and shopping inside the Corona Costco with his family on Friday night.
That’s when Kenneth French, 32, allegedly attacked the officer, who was holding his young child, prompting the off-duty officer to react.
The officer then allegedly pulled his gun and fired, killing French and striking two of his family members. The officer was reportedly holding the child when the shooting occurred.
The officer and his family were not identified by name in the incident. The officer was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for his injuries. The child was not hurt during the altercation.
The Corona Police Department confirmed that French had been killed in the shooting and that the injured family members were in critical condition at nearby medical facilities.
The department also noted in their report that the officer was the only one to fire shots from a weapon.
The gunshots inside the store reportedly frightened customers, who rushed in a panic from the crowded warehouse store. Witnesses told KCAL-TV that a man with a Mohawk haircut was arguing with someone near a freezer section when he pulled a gun and fired at least six shots. Other witnesses reported that French attacked the officer, causing him to pull and fire his gun.
Police swarmed the store after the shooting. A witness who was at Costco purchasing supplies for a Father’s Day barbecue said she heard “about six or seven shots.” She and her daughter dropped to the ground and crawled toward the exit, unsure of the specifics of the situation.
“I saw people and heard shots and my first thought was ‘Jesus, is this another mass shooting?’” she said. “I didn’t know if this was a random thing or a domestic thing or if this was a mass shooting. Everything was happening so fast, I just wanted to get me and my kid to safety.”
Others didn’t understand what was happening at first.
“I thought maybe someone dropped a bottle of wine, but then I kept hearing shots,” another shopper said. “An employee came in and helped us out through the emergency exit.”
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed on Saturday that they would be looking into the event and conducting their own investigation.
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