A Riverside couple wounded when an off-duty Los Angeles police officer fatally shot their developmentally disabled son during a confrontation at the Costco in Corona are battling complications as they gradually recover from their wounds, the family attorney said Wednesday.
Russell and Paola French have been hospitalized since the shooting on the night of June 14. Both suffered wounds when Officer Salvador Sanchez opened fire after what Corona police and his attorney, David Winslow, described as an assault by the couple's son, 32-year-old Kenneth French.
"Russell is fighting an infection and pneumonia, making his recovery slower than expected," said the French's attorney, Dale Galipo. "Paola still has some complications with her wounds, which will require additional surgeries."
Despite the setbacks, Galipo said he was optimistic about their progress toward healing.
According to the attorney, the Riverside County coroner's office has completed an autopsy on Kenneth French, and his body awaits burial at an unspecified date.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin confirmed last week that the Corona Police Department's findings in the shooting had been submitted to the D.A.'s office, and a team of prosecutors and agency investigators are conducting a review.
Hestrin told City News Service that detectives submitted the case file without a specific recommendation, leaving it to the D.A.'s office to make an unbiased determination based on the facts. It was unknown when the review might be completed.
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Meanwhile, Galipo said his office is continuing to seek a copy of the police report, as well as a copy of the in-store security surveillance videotape that captured parts of the shooting.
"Our office is exploring all legal options as it relates to the Los Angeles Police Department's responsibility for its officer, who demonstrated a lack of restraint and excessive force while in possession of a department-issued weapon," the attorney said.
Sanchez, an LAPD Southwest Division patrol officer, has been on administrative leave since the shooting inside the Costco at 480 N. McKinley St.
Conflicting stories emerged over the circumstances, with the dead man's relatives calling for the lawman's arrest, and the officer's attorney insisting his client responded appropriately.
Kenneth French, whom Galipo said was a diagnosed schizophrenic and was nonverbal, was in the freezer section of the store when he came into contact with Sanchez, according to witnesses.
Corona police said the off-duty officer was shopping with his family, holding his 18-month-old son in his arms, when, "without provocation, (Kenneth French) assaulted the officer."
According to the officer's attorney, Sanchez was knocked to the floor and briefly lost consciousness. When he awoke, he found his son next to him, screaming. Winslow said his client "had no choice but to use deadly force" in self-defense.
Galipo told reporters that Kenneth French, who had recently been taken off of his medications for undisclosed reasons, pushed or shoved the officer in the back in a food-sample line, but he denied that there was any serious threat. He also said French's father tried to explain to the officer that his son was intellectually disabled.
Galipo called Sanchez's response "a complete over-reaction, excessive and unjustified," and said "if anyone other than an off-duty police officer had shot three unarmed civilians in a Costco, that person would be in jail and facing criminal charges for murder."
Winslow, however, repudiated the "push or shove" description, saying French's action amounted to "a violent attack."
The officer's son was not injured, and Sanchez, who has been with the LAPD since May 2012, suffered minor injuries.