- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 25, 2019

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A grand jury declined to bring charges against an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fatally shot a mentally ill man who assaulted him in a Southern California Costco warehouse, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Wednesday.

Officer Salvador Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the LAPD, opened fire on June 14, fatally shooting Kenneth French and injuring his parents, Russell and Paola French.

Hestrin said the results of the investigation were presented to a grand jury this month, and the panel declined to return charges.

“One of the pieces of information that I think was uncontroverted was that the off-duty officer was struck by Kenneth French — struck in the head — and he went down as he was holding his infant child,” Hestrin told a news conference. “And it all happened very fast, about less than four seconds from the moment that he (French) struck to the moment that he (Sanchez) fired.”

The officer believed he had been shot and that there was an active shooter, Hestrin said, citing witnesses who saw him reach to the back of his head multiple times to look for blood.

Ten rounds were fired. Four struck Kenneth French, and each parent was hit once.

Lawyers for Sanchez have said he acted in self-defense when French attacked him as he was holding his 1½-year-old son during a shopping trip to the warehouse store in Corona. French knocked him to the ground, Sanchez’s attorney David Winslow has said, and he briefly lost consciousness.

Believing his life and his son’s life were in “immediate danger,” Winslow has said, Sanchez fired his handgun. The LAPD is conducting an administrative inquiry into whether Sanchez followed the department’s policies.

Dale Galipo, an attorney for the French family, has said Russell and Paola French were trying to explain to the officer that his son had a mental disability when shots rang out. French, 32, of Riverside, had been taken off his medication because of other health complications, which may have affected his behavior that night, Galipo has said.

Galipo has called it an “open-handed push or slap” to the policeman’s back.

The family has filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against Sanchez and the Los Angeles Police Department. A Riverside County judge has issued an order that keeps surveillance footage and cellphone video out of the public eye for one year because of the investigation.

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