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Attorney for Intellectually Disabled Man Fatally Shot at Costco By Off-Duty LAPD Officer Speaks Exclusively to PINews

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Last month the family of an intellectually disabled man who was shot and killed by an off-duty LAPD police officer at a Corona, California, Costco filed a lawsuit against the involved officer and the city of Los Angeles. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, is in response to the June 14, 2019 fatal shooting of Kenneth French, 32. French died at the scene while shopping with his parents, Russell and Paola, who also sustained critical injuries from the shooting.

The shooting took place at a food tasting line inside the membership warehouse store. The French family indicated via court filings that an altercation took place between Kenneth and Officer Salvador Sanchez, who was holding his toddler at the time. Contradicting versions of what transpired have been circulated through various press outlets, with the victim’s family contending Kenneth pushed the officer, while attorneys representing Sanchez claim French forcibly struck the officer on the back of the head without provocation.

In the midst of the chaos during the shooting, shoppers are said to have run for cover in a state of terror, some believing they were experiencing yet another mass shooting. As the altercation took place, Sanchez identified himself as a Los Angeles police officer and drew his gun in the direction of French. The Riverside County District Attorney’s office issued a statement indicating that Sanchez was knocked to the ground and began firing 3.8 seconds later. He fired a total of 10 shots towards the French family from a distance of approximately 20 feet. The lawsuit states that Sanchez failed to assist the three victims after shooting them.

Additionally, the lawsuit states that the victim’s mother, Paola French, pleaded with Sanchez to not shoot and expressed that her son suffered from a mental illness. The lawsuit further states that Kennth, Russell, and Paola French posed no immediate threat to Sanchez, as they were moving away from him when the shooting occurred. Costco’s video surveillance is said to corroborate that version of events, as well as the fact that Kenneth and Paola were shot in the back.

PINews spoke exclusively with Woodland Hills personal injury attorney, Dale K. Galipo, who is representing the French family. Galipo indicated that he expects the next 2-3 months to bring significant details to light that will solidify the claims made in the civil suit against the city of Los Angeles and Sanchez.

“Over next 2-3 months we’ll be uncovering a lot of additional information including surveillance video footage that has yet to be seen by anyone, which will give a clear picture of exactly how the shooting transpired,” Galipo said. Galipo also indicated he intends to depose Officer Sanchez and get his statement on record, as well as procuring statements from the numerous witnesses to the shooting.

Galipo also expressed a sense of frustration over the fact that the Riverside County prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against Sanchez, noting that he “was released immediately following the incident without so much as a ticket or citation after fatally shooting one individual and critically injuring two others.”

“What I can do as a civil rights lawyer is pursue my clients’ rights in civil court, both state and federal,” stated Galipo. Additionally, Galipo indicated his intent to file a separate lawsuit, telling PINews, “We currently have the case in state court, but I think we’re going to file a separate case in federal court.” Galipo stated that he expects discovery to begin next month.

The lawsuit seeks damages for wrongful-death, as well as compensatory damages for personal injuries sustained by the parents, and punitive damages for alleged violations of state civil rights statutes. In total, the lawsuit names 25 unidentified LAPD managers or supervisors as defendants.

When asked whether he anticipates the lawsuit will lead to a settlement or a jury trial, Galipo told PINews, “It will end up in a jury trial, I feel confident about that.”

Moreover, Galipo articulated to PINews the tragic circumstances the surviving family members are currently enduring. “The family is clearly devastated,” he said, adding that the parents are left “emotionally traumatized.”

“It’s bad enough losing a family member, but having to witness your son die in front of your eyes, it’s an experience that’s incredibly tragic and the trauma experienced by the family is unthinkable; it simply can’t be put into words.”

Galipo also provided an update concerning the current condition of Russell and Paola French. “The parents are still suffering medical complications related to the gun shot wounds, specifically serious complications from infections.” Moreover, Galipo indicated that the injuries sustained from the gunshots have required multiple surgeries. “The surgeries required the removal of some vital organs, he said, adding that, “They [Russell and Paola] will be permanently injured for the rest of their lives.”

Representatives for the LAPD indicated to PINews that they are unable to comment on open litigation. Sanchez is reportedly assigned to home duty pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

Expect full coverage on the trial once it begins, as well as additional updates on what the ongoing investigation reveals.