Ex-LAPD officer won’t be retried following mistrial in Costco shooting case
Salvador Alejandro Sanchez killed Kenneth French at a Costco after the non-verbal man hit Sanchez from behind
By Brian Rokos
CORONA, Calif. — The state Attorney General’s Office will not retry the former Los Angeles Police Department officer who fatally shot an intellectually disabled man and wounded his parents in the Corona Costco in 2019, the defense attorney told the Southern California News Group on Friday, Feb. 9.
Salvador Alejandro Sanchez killed Kenneth French, 32, after the non-verbal man slugged Sanchez as the off-duty officer held his toddler in the sausage samples line in the deli on June 14, 2019. French’s parents, Russell and Paoli, were wounded as they attempted to shield their son from the volley of 10 bullets.
A mistrial was declared in January after the jury deadlocked on one count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm.
Defense attorney Michael Schwartz said that jurors favored acquittal on the voluntary manslaughter charge by a 9-3 count and were deadlocked on the firearm assault counts that leaned more to acquittals.
Sanchez, now 33, was not in uniform. He said he thought he had been shot and therefore fired in self-defense.
Deputy Attorney General Mike Murphy argued during the monthlong trial that Sanchez acted in haste, and had he taken a moment to assess the situation would have realized he had not been shot and that the danger had passed.
A hearing when the AG’s Office would announce its decision had been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, in Superior Court in Indio. But because Superior Court Judge Jason L. Stone was not going to be available on Tuesday, a telephone hearing was held on Friday, the defense attorney said.
The prosecutor “invited the court to dismiss the case, which the court did,” Schwartz said.
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed Friday that it will not retry the case, which it filed after the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges and a Riverside County grand jury declined to indict Sanchez.
“The Department of Justice stands by the decision to charge and prosecute this case, however, after considering a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the input of the surviving victims and feedback from the trial jury, the department has decided not to retry the case,” the AG’s Office said.
In an interview, Schwartz said: “Mr. Sanchez and his family feel humbled and grateful to God for the outcome, and also obviously appreciative of the Attorney General’s (Office’s) decision not to retry the case. The stress on the Sanchez family, emotionally as well as financially, has been enormous.”
Sanchez was fired from his job after the LAPD ruled that his actions were outside of policy.
But a federal jury weighing a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD and Sanchez awarded the Frenches $17 million after deciding he acted within the scope of his employment, said the Frenches’ attorney, Dale K. Galipo.
“That day, my client’s sole purpose was to defend his son and himself from a violent assault,” Schwartz said. “At this point, he just wants to support his family and raise his family in peace. The event was tragic for everyone. The incident occurred in 2019 and we are now in 2024. It’s been five years. It’s time for everyone to move on.”