Police Officer Kills Mentally Disabled Man
(CA) – It looked like Officer Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, with the LAPD, was going to get away with killing a mentally disabled man. The grand jury did not returned an indictment on him. But a new law and a new attorney general changed everything. The new law specifies that the Attorney General’s Office is “required to investigate all fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians in California.” That law allowed AG Bonta to take over the case and eventually file felony charges against Sanchez.
The shooting happened in June of 2019 inside of a Costco. Kenneth French suffered from developmental disabilities and various mental issues. While in the store, French either slapped or punched Sanchez, who was off-duty, in the head. Sanchez was holding his 18-month old child; both of them fell to the ground. Kenneth’s parents immediately jumped in front of Kenneth, pushing him away from Sanchez. According to the father, Sanchez pulled his gun and said he was the police. Kenneth’s parents stood in front of him telling Sanchez they didn’t have a gun and that Kenneth had mental issues. Sanchez shot anyway.
Sanchez’s Version of Events
Different articles have listed different quotes from Sanchez. They build an interesting story.
Sanchez told Corona police officers that he saw a “flash” and believed he had been shot. He said French was “hunkered down” and believed he was armed, “so I shot,” the investigator wrote, citing police body-worn camera footage.
Two months later, in August, Sanchez told a district attorney’s investigator that he saw someone holding a gun to his head, saw a white flash, heard a gunshot and felt a hot and searing pain to his head. Sanchez said he suffered a temporary loss of hearing and vision.
“Sanchez stated he woke up on the ground and saw a person with a gun. Sanchez stated he drew his firearm and fired because he believed his and his son’s lives were in danger and there was no other option,” the DOJ investigator wrote, citing Sanchez’s statement to the DA’s Office.
After the shooting, Sanchez told Corona police and LAPD investigators that when he fell he thought he had been shot and believed he saw French still pointing a gun at him and his son. He pulled out his own gun and fired twice.
French collapsed but still had a “concentrated, intense look in his eyes, still looking at me and my son,” Sanchez claimed to investigators.
“I remember we were face-to-face and his arm was still extended out, and I believe he still had that same gun, and I fired twice more in his direction at him,” Sanchez said.
And from the investigative videos below (video 1) Sanchez goes so far as to describe the gun that Kenneth French has as being a “small black compact firearm, similar to a LCP (Ruger) .380 pistol.”
Facts of the Case
Kenneth French did not have a gun. The only gun was the Glock that Sanchez had. Police even flew a drone in the store to check the tops of the shelves and cooler cases to make sure it had not been thrown on top to hide it. The flash, the bang, the searing pain, and even the type of weapon, were all figments of Sanchez’s imagination or lies to cover his improper actions. The two shots fired, Kenneth falling to the ground, then the additional two shots fired, was again, not how it happened. Sanchez fired 10 shots out of his weapon.
Officer Sanchez said he did not see the parents standing in front of Kenneth. Both parents were shot in the back and seriously injured. And that face-to-face comment, according to police, “the officer was at least 20 feet from French and his parents when he opened fire.” Then there’s the statement from the paramedic about his head injury. In the investigative video (video 2) the paramedic says, “…he just told me I slipped, fell, hit my head.”
Riverside County District Attorney, Mike Hestrin, was facing accusations of preferential treatment for not charging Sanchez. Hestrin blamed the grand jury, but I hope everyone realizes by now that the DA controls the tone of what the grand jury hears.
I found the following comment by Hestrin to be humorous, “Police officers have to respond (to an attack) as if they’re on duty.” That’s the complete opposite of what Sanchez’s previous defense attorney claimed. He claims that Sanchez wasn’t acting as a police officer, he was acting as a father.
It matters because the Los Angeles Police Department fired Salvador Sanchez saying his actions did not fall within policy. That’s why the defense attorney is pushing the ‘acting as a father’ scenario. Trying to use his being a police officer as a defense will hurt him since he was fired for his improper actions.
Manslaughter and Assault Charges Filed
30-year old Salvador Alejandro Sanchez was charged with one count of Voluntary Manslaughter and two counts of Assault with a Semiautomatic Firearm. His bail was set at $155,000 and he was booked into the Robert Presley Jail. Sanchez was able to post a bail bond and has been released.
Civil Lawsuit Filed by Parents
“The family filed a civil suit against the LAPD, the city of Los Angeles and Sanchez at the end of 2019, alleging battery, negligence, civil rights violations and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.” The civil lawsuit addresses both the murder of their son and the physical injuries that were inflicted on them.
NBC 4 did an excellent investigative series on this event back in March. I’ve watched some videos of attorneys who said they didn’t see how charges could be brought. I don’t see how they could NOT bring charges against Sanchez. The investigative report is in two videos. Both videos are below.
Note the drama by Sanchez. It reminds me of athletes who feign serious injuries, trying to get a foul called against an opponent. And I can’t help but wonder if Sanchez said something ugly to French that caused him to become aggressive. Guess that’s something we’ll never know.