LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer inside a Costco store sued the officer and the city on Wednesday.
Prosecutors declined to charge Officer Salvador Sanchez for the June 14 shooting that killed Kenneth French. His parents, Russell and Paola French, were seriously wounded.
“Our lives will never be the same and the holidays are completely empty without Kenneth,” the parents said in a statement announcing the civil rights lawsuit. “We are still fighting for our health and will not stop fighting for justice.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified wrongful-death damages, compensatory damages for personal injury and punitive damages over what it says are violations of state civil rights statutes.
The encounter in the store in Corona lasted just 3.8 seconds. Sanchez, holding his one-and-a-half-year-old son, was standing in line for food samples with his wife when French, without warning or provocation, knocked the officer and the child to the ground.
Sanchez opened fire, believing his life and his son’s life were in immediate danger from an active shooter, Sanchez’s lawyer, Ira Salzman, has said.
Salzman did not immediately respond to an email and phone call on Wednesday seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Russell and Paola French told Sanchez that their son struggled with mental illness and pleaded with him not to shoot, but he did anyway, according to the court filing.
The lawsuit said the Frenches posed no threat to Sanchez because they were moving away from him when he opened fire, which is supported by Costco video. Kenneth and Paola also were shot in the back.