An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer acted in violation of department policy last summer when he shot and killed an intellectually disabled man who hit him at Costco while he was holding his toddler son, The Los Angeles Police Commission found Wednesday.
Officer Salvador Sanchez was shopping with his family at a Costco in Corona, Calif., when Kenneth French, 32, who was mostly non-verbal, came up behind him and assaulted him "without provocation,” the Corona Police Department said, FOX 11 in Los Angeles reported.
Sanchez reportedly fell to the floor thinking he had been shot and withdrew his weapon, fatally shooting French and seriously injuring his parents who were behind him.
Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the LAPD, fired 10 rounds at French. He struck French four times in the back and shoulder, his mother once in the stomach, and his father once in the back, Corona Police Chief George Johnstone said.
French had hit Sanchez with his hand.
The commission voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of Los Angeles Police Chef Michael Moore’s recommendation that Sanchez withdrew his weapon improperly and used deadly force.
The case is now up to Moore, according to FOX 11. Some in the commission meeting said he should be fired.
Sanchez has been stripped of his police duties and is working from home.
“The decisions and actions of this officer cannot be justified and are inconsistent with the Department’s core values, training and expectations of every member of this organization,” Moore said in a statement while expressing “profound regret” to Sanchez’s family, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Moore’s report said Sanchez should have determined if he had actually been shot before he withdrew his weapon and he should have tried to de-escalate the situation.
Sanchez’s lawyer, David Winslow, said he “had no choice but to use deadly force,” saying he lost consciousness briefly after he was hit and woke up on the ground with his 18-month-old son crying next to him. He said he thought both he and his son had been shot when he was struck in the head and believed French was still threatening his family with a gun.
French’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia and had been taken off his medication due to health issues, which may have caused him to lash out, the family attorney said last year.
Last September, a federal grand jury on declined to bring charges against Sanchez.
"I believe that he believed at that moment that he was shot," Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said in a news conference at the time while making the announcement that there would be no charges.
French’s parents filed a lawsuit against the city late last year over Sanchez’s actions. Both have undergone more than one surgery for their injuries sustained in the shooting, their attorney, David Galipo said, according to the Times.
“They’re obviously disappointed there was no criminal prosecution, especially now with what’s going on across the country with other cases they see,” Galipo said. “At least with some, like George Floyd, there is going to be a prosecution. Many families are wondering, ‘Why not in my case?’”
When the lawsuit was filed, Galipo said if anyone besides a police officer had fired 10 shots inside a Costco, killing someone, “they would've been arrested and charged with murder.”
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.