The family of a man with developmental disabilities killed by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages against the Los Angeles Police Department, the City of Los Angeles and Officer Salvador Sanchez.
Kenneth French was shot and killed by Officer Sanchez after the victim had knocked the officer down while holding his infant son. Also shot were the young man's parents, Russell and Paola French, who were suffered multiple gunshots and were seriously injured. Russell French was shot in his chest and abdomen and lost a kidney, and Paola French was shot in the back and ended up in a coma. The father said at a news conference recently that he "begged" Sanchez not to fire. "I told him we had no guns and my son was sick." French's mother said she "was pleading for my son and our lives."
Kenneth French, was nonverbal and was unarmed at the time. The claim said Sanchez identified himself as a LAPD officer before the shooting and fired his LAPD-issued weapon, but he "failed to give the French family a verbal warning that deadly force would be used prior to the shooting," and ignored the couple's pleas not to shoot. "The shooting of Kenneth, Russell and Paola French was unjustified, unreasonable and completely excessive, particularly because neither Kenneth, Russell, nor Paola French posed an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to any person, including officer Sanchez, at the time of the shooting," the claim said. It said Russell and Paola French have suffered from emotional distress after the shooting, and have mounting medical bills from multiple surgeries and required home health care.
As reported by NBC News, an attorney for the French family, Dale Galipo, said that Kenneth French might have pushed the officer from behind, but the action wasn't an attack, and the French family quickly moved away. "It certainly does not justify killing someone," Galipo said, adding that Sanchez should face murder or manslaughter charges. The attorney said he's not sure if there was an altercation before the shooting, and urged authorities to release footage from the scene. But a judge has ordered that videos remain sealed to the public for a year pending an investigation by prosecutors who are deciding whether to file criminal charges.
The attorney for Officer Sanchez, David Winslow, said the officer was shopping in Costco with his wife and had his infant son in his arms when they were "both knocked to the ground." "While lying injured on the Costco floor, he was unprotected and had no other option to defend himself and his son from further deadly attack," the lawyer said in a statement following the incident. He said the "only option" was for the officer to use deadly force. Sanchez is on paid administrative leave, which is mandatory following an officer-involved shooting.