Late Mentally Disabled Man’s Family is Awarded $17 Million After Being Shot by Off-Duty Cop

In July of 2019, a 32 year-old mentally disabled man and his parents went to a Costco in Corona. While waiting in line at a sample station the disabled man, Kenneth French, got into a physical altercation with an off-duty LAPD police officer, Salvador Sanchez (30 years-old). Things escalated quickly, and Salvador Sanchez pulled out a gun and fired off 10 rounds, killing Kenneth French and injuring his parents in the process.

Kenneth French was diagnosed with schizophrenia and described as non-verbal. Both of his parents, Paola (58 years-old) and Russell (59 years-old), while injured, made a full recovery. Russell suffered the bulk of non-life-threatening injuries, including losing his kidney, gallbladder, and parts of his intestines; while his wife recovered. Both had been shot in the back.

Important to note with this case is that Sanchez believed that French was in possession of a gun, and had shot at him first. Sanchez said that he was knocked unconscious for a brief moment after being hit by French at the back of his head. Sanchez was accompanied by his 18 month old child. Sanchez opened fire on French less than 4 seconds after being hit by the disabled man. French was standing 20 feet away from Sanchez, when he was shot.

This case became controversial in September of 2019, when a grand jury decided against bringing criminal charges against Police Officer Sanchez. Later, in August of 2021 Sanchez was charged with one count voluntary manslaughter, and two counts of assault with a semiautomatic handgun by the State Attorney General. While the jury considered Sanchez to be acting as a police officer, while firing at the family; the Los Angeles Police Commission found Sanchez to be using excessive force and acting outside of the scope appropriate for a police officer. The Commission decided that French had not caused enough reason to react by shooting him, as he wasn’t a threat of death, nor did he cause any serious injuries in Sanchez.  The police officer was fired in July of 2020.

The family was awarded $17 million dollars in damages. Sanchez’s lawyer, David Winslow, insists that his client is not guilty of any criminal charges, and was acting as a father protecting his son, while believing he was shot himself. Winslow also voiced his belief that this case was used as a political stunt fueled by the desire to prosecute police officers.

Winslow’s portrayal of the events is that “Sal Sanchez was holding his baby when he was violently attacked and knocked to the ground along with his baby. He was also knocked unconscious momentarily.”

No matter whether or not former officer Sanchez believed to be in life-threatening danger, and acting as a father; as the Attorney General stated: “Ultimately, any loss of life is a tragedy and being licensed to carry a gun doesn’t mean you’re not accountable for how you use it. No matter who you are, nobody is above the law.”

Maximiliane Smith

Maximiliane Smith is an american journalist based in Washington. She covers poltical and social news across the UK. She is An avid reader and writer with a passion for all things justice. She loves to discuss and write about sustainability, health, gender equality, and more. A graduate from UMBC with a Bachelor’s in Psychology,