Former Officer Salvador Sanchez was arrested Monday morning and is facing felony charges of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semiautomatic firearm for the June 14, 2019 shooting, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Riverside County prosecutors had decided not to charge Sanchez for the June 14 incident, in which he shot 32-year-old Kenneth French and his parents while they were shopping.
The state Attorney General's Office later reviewed the case and decided to move forward with charges.
"Where there's reason to believe a crime has been committed, we will seek justice," Bonta said in a statement released Monday. "That's exactly what these charges are about: pursuing justice after an independent and thorough review of the evidence and the law. 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."
French, described as developmentally disabled by his family, was killed in the shooting. His parents, Russell and Paola French, were wounded by gunfire and hospitalized.
Sanchez's attorney has said the incident began when the off-duty policeman was assaulted while holding his toddler son, and contended that Sanchez opened fire after being knocked to the floor.
His attorney issued a statement Monday noting that the Riverside Grand Jury determined there was no basis for criminal action, and claimed the state AG's office is "politically motivated" to prosecute police officers.
The statement read:
"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. At the time of the incident he believed he was protecting himself and his baby from being killed. The Riverside Grand Jury heard all the evidence in this matter and concluded there was no basis for any criminal issues.
The arrest of Sal Sanchez is a product of the politically motivated program by the California Attorney General to prosecute Police Officers. Sal was not acting as a police officer when he was attacked. He was off duty acting as a father in self-defense and protecting his child.
This arrest is a political stunt that does absolutely nothing to protect the public."
Last year, the Los Angeles Police Commission sided with LAPD Chief Michel Moore's determination that Sanchez acted outside department policy in the shooting.
Sanchez was terminated from the LAPD in July 2020, according to the department.