A federal jury awarded $ 17 million to the parents of a mentally ill man who was shot dead in a Costco store by a Los Angeles police officer on leave.
The Riverside panel ruled on a lawsuit brought against the city of LA and the former officer on June 14, 2019, murdering Kenneth French, 32.
“I am satisfied with the verdict and hope it will do justice to the family,” Dale Galipo, a family lawyer, told KNBC-TV.
Jurors in the trial found Salvador Sanchez, a seven-year Los Angeles Police veteran, was acting within the scope of his job even though he was off duty. This means that the city can be responsible for a large part of the reward.
The city will consider its options, including an appeal, said Rob Wilcox, spokesperson for the city’s attorney’s office.
Sanchez was shopping at a sausage sample table in the Corona store in southeast Los Angeles when French hit him or pushed him from behind without warning, authorities said.
Sanchez was holding his 1.5-year-old son in his arms when he was thrown to the ground.
Sanchez drew a handgun and opened fire, killing French and seriously injuring his parents, Russell and Paola French.
Sanchez told investigators he believed French had a gun, that he had been shot and that his life and that of his son were in immediate danger. However, French was unarmed and was walking away from Sanchez when he opened fire.
His parents said French was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The LAPD fired Sanchez last year after the city’s Civilian Council of Police Commissioners determined that French’s conduct did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury, meaning the use of force murder was not “objectively reasonable”.
The Riverside County District Attorney refused to indict Sanchez when a grand jury failed to indict him. However, the state attorney general charged him with intentional manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic firearm.
He’s awaiting trial.
An email requesting comment from David Winslow, a lawyer representing Sanchez in the criminal case, was not immediately returned.
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