Los Angeles

Under Court Order, Police Panel Withholds Video of Corona Costco OIS

Saying it has no intention of violating an order issued by a Riverside County judge, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners declined Tuesday to release surveillance video of a fatal shooting by an off-duty LAPD officer inside a Costco store in Corona.

Josh Rubenstein, public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, said until the judge's order is lifted, the agency will not release the security camera footage of the June 14 shooting.

It could be withheld from public view up to a year while the investigation continues, but Rubenstein said it could be released earlier depending when the probe ends.

Department policy calls for the agency to release available video within 45 days, but "of course that court order supersedes that," Rubenstein said.

"Because this is Corona's investigation, I'm not sure how they're handling (the video)," he said.

The commission voted unanimously, 4-0, to comply with the judge's order that video be kept under wraps until the investigation into the shooting is completed.

Salvador Sanchez, an LAPD Southwest Division patrol officer, has been on administrative leave since fatally shooting 32-year-old Kenneth French and wounding his parents, Russell and Paola French, in what Corona police investigators characterized as an act of self-defense on the night of June 14 inside the Costco at 480 N. McKinley St.

Conflicting stories emerged over the circumstances that led to the shooting, with the dead man's relatives calling for the lawman's arrest, and the officer's attorney insisting his client responded appropriately.

French, who had a mental impairment that made him nonverbal, was in the freezer section of the store when he came into contact with Sanchez, according to witnesses.

Corona police previously said the off-duty officer was shopping with his family, holding his 18-month-old son in his arms, when, "without provocation, a male unknown to the officer's family assaulted the officer."

According to the lawman's attorney, David Winslow, 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."

The French family's attorney, Dale Galipo, has said that 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 there was any deadly 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," adding that it was disturbing that, "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.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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