Los Angeles

Conflicting Accounts of Deadly Costco Shooting Emerge

Video from Costco's security cameras and shoppers' cellphones will be critical to the investigations.

What to Know

  • A 32-year-old man was killed and his parents were wounded Friday when an off-duty officer opened fire in a Corona Costco
  • The LAPD officer fired after he was attacked from behind while holding his child, his attorney says
  • The Riverside County District Attorney's Office issued a statement urging the public to be patient

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday a security camera may have captured the shooting last Friday inside a Costco store in Corona in which an off-duty officer drew a pistol, killed a man, and shot the man's parents.

Moore declined to share his opinion on the officer's conduct or discuss the circumstances of the killing, but said he expected to personally view the video in the next day when he received an initial briefing from LAPD investigators.

"We, in working with Corona Police Department, located an interior camera, operated by Costco, that has some information relative to this event," Moore said.

It was unclear if the recording captured the shooting itself, the moments prior, or the aftermath.

Kenneth French, 32, was killed by the officer, and French's parents were shot and critically injured, authorities said. Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners the officer, whose name has not been made public by the LAPD or Corona police, fired a 9 mm handgun several times after the officer was struck in the head near a food tasting station.

"The attack appeared unprovoked," Moore said.

The Chief said the officer was holding his 18-month-old son at the time, and repeated information provided to reporters by the officer's lawyer.

That lawyer, David Winslow, told NBCLA the officer was feeding his son when hit.

"The officer was unconscious momentarily," Winslow said in a written statement. "While lying injured on the Costco floor, he was unprotected and had no other option to defend himself and his son from further deadly attack. He was in fear for his son's life. The only option was deadly force."

Rick Shureih, French's cousin, told NBCLA that French was a "gentle giant" and was nonverbal due to a mental condition. The cousin did not provide details on the French's condition, but said that French was monitored by his parents, Russell and Paola French, who accompanied him everywhere.

In a Facebook posting Monday, Shureih said the family has gotten "witness accounts that do not match up to the original story."

He declined to provide details, saying the information is confidential. He also said the family is pro-police but wants justice and called on authorities to arrest the officer. The French family has retained attorney Dale K. Galipo to begin legal action against the officer and the LAPD.

"The family believes that shooting was excessive and completely unjustified because Mr. French was unarmed and posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone," Galipo said in a statement.

Corona police did not respond to requests for information about what immediately preceded the shooting and whether anyone other than the officer had a weapon. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office issued a statement urging the public to be patient.

Once Corona police finish their investigation, prosecutors will review and consider whether to bring criminal charges. Witnesses reported seeing an argument between two people near a freezer section when at least six shots rang out.

The shooting prompted a stampede of frightened shoppers, some fleeing the store as others sought cover inside. The officer was assigned to home while the incident is investigated.

NBC4 reported Monday he was hired in 2012 and has had an "unremarkable" career, according to several senior law enforcement officials.

The officer is assigned to the LAPD's Southwest Station in South Los Angeles and previously worked at the Rampart Station near downtown, the officials said.

Off-duty shootings involving LAPD officers are rare, the officials said, recalling only three or four in the last few years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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