Mistrial declared in case of deadly 2019 officer-involved shooting

Mistrial declared in case of deadly 2019 officer-involved shooting

A mistrial was declared after a jury deadlock in a voluntary manslaughter case against an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fatally shot a mentally ill man who attacked him in a Costco store in 2019.

After the mistrial Thursday, the California attorney general’s office declined to say whether it planned to retry the case, the Southern California News Group reported.

Salvador Sanchez was holding his young son in his arms at a Costco in Corona, about 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, when he was knocked to the ground from behind by 32-year-old Kenneth French. Sanchez opened fire seconds later, fatally wounding French and critically injuring French’s parents, Russell and Paola French.

French was nonverbal and had recently been taken off unspecified medication due to other health issues, the family’s lawyer has said, adding that the change may have affected his behavior that night. French’s family believes he suffered from schizophrenia.

While Sanchez told investigators he believed French had a gun and that his life was in danger, authorities said French was not armed and was moving away from Sanchez when the officer began shooting.

The state attorney general filed charges of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm against Sanchez in 2021 after a Riverside County grand jury did not bring an indictment.

During the trial last month, prosecutors told the jury that Sanchez had panicked in the Costco and fabricated a narrative to avoid criminal charges, the Southern California News Group reported.

Sanchez’s attorney, Michael Schwartz, told the news group after the mistrial that the majority of jurors favored acquittal, but he did not have the exact count.

“I just think it’s the kind of case where it was a tragedy but it wasn’t a crime, and at this point, they put it in front of a grand jury and there was no indictment, and they put it in front of a jury and there was no conviction, and at this point, all parties should be allowed to move on,” Schwartz said.

Sanchez was a seven-year veteran of the LAPD at the time of the shooting. The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruled that his actions violated departmental policy.

A federal jury awarded $17 million to French’s parents in 2021.