A federal jury in Riverside, CA, today ordered the city of Los Angeles and a former police officer to pay $17 million in damages to the family of a mentally disabled man who was fatally shot by the officer during an altercation inside a Costco store in Corona, according to a published report.
The bulk of the verdict will be borne by the city, with the eight-person jury finding that Salvador Sanchez, then an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer, was acting within the scope of his employment when he opened fire inside the store on June 14, 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported, KFI/CNS reports.
Authorities said Kenneth French and Sanchez were inside the Corona Costco store when French, without provocation, punched or shoved Sanchez from behind, causing him to fall on the floor.
Sanchez's attorney said the then-officer was holding his year-old son in his arms when he was attacked, and claimed Sanchez briefly lost consciousness. Sanchez opened fire, killing French and wounding French's parents.
The French family says they pleaded with Sanchez not to shoot, telling the officer that their son, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was largely non-verbal, had mental health issues. They also claim they were backing away from Sanchez when the shooting occurred.
Sanchez was fired by the department last year after the city Police Commission determined that he acted outside department policy in the shooting. He is awaiting trial on charges of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm.