Witness testimony offers insight into deadly Corona Costco shooting involving former LAPD officer

The former L.A. off-duty police officer shot and killed an unarmed man inside a Costco warehouse in Corona in 2019.

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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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The former L.A. police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man inside a Costco warehouse in Corona in 2019 while he was off-duty had his preliminary hearing Wednesday. During the hearing, the prosecution called several witnesses to the shooting for testimony.

CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- The former Los Angeles off-duty police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man inside a Costco warehouse in Corona in 2019 had his preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Salvador Sanchez, 32, of Corona is facing charges of manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.

During the hearing, the prosecution called several witnesses to the shooting for testimony. The preliminary hearing will continue later this week.

The shooting happened at the Costco on McKinley Avenue on the evening of June 14, 2019.

Sanchez fired his weapon several times inside the store, killing 32-year-old Kenneth French, and wounding his parents, Russell and Paola French.

Sanchez told police that the incident started when French, who is developmentally disabled, assaulted him inside the store while he was holding his baby.

Sanchez said he was knocked to the ground and was momentarily knocked unconscious. That's when he fired his weapon.

RELATED: Former LAPD officer arrested for 2019 off-duty fatal shooting at Corona Costco

In court, a former Costco employee who was an eyewitness to the shooting testified about what happened. The eyewitness said Sanchez and the French family were all collecting food samples when French attacked Sanchez.

"I turned around and he punched the person on the head and dropped him down with the baby," said the eyewitness, who said after the attack, she heard Sanchez scream that he'd been shot.

She said she then turned around to try to get help from a supervisor, and that's when she heard gunfire.

"I heard the gunshot, and that's when I panicked," she said.

The Riverside County District Attorney declined to file charges against Sanchez, and instead presented the case to a grand jury.

The grand jury also declined to recommend charges.

But Sanchez was fired by LAPD after the police commission agreed with Chief Michel Moore that he acted outside the department's policy in the off-duty shooting.

In August 2021, the California Department of Justice filed charges for manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.

Meanwhile, the family of French filed a civil lawsuit against LAPD, the city of Los Angeles and Sanchez, alleging negligence and civil rights violations.

A jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in November 2021, awarding $17 million in damages.