Pray for my dying son, not me, said father shot dead in California by Costco in 2019


Russell French and his wife, Paola, were screaming in pain after they and their son Kenneth were shot by off-duty Los Angeles Police Officer Salvador Alejandro Sanchez at Costco in Corona on June 14, 2019.

“My whole side was burning,” French testified on Thursday, August 11, and he saw someone praying for him.

“It’s not a good sign,” added French, 61, in a neutral tone. Worse, Kenneth was motionless and silent.

“What little energy I had, I was able to move my head. I told him to pray for Ken,” French told Deputy Attorney General Mike Murphy.

French testified about the moments leading up to the shootings and the couple’s recovery during the second day of Sanchez’s preliminary hearing in Riverside Superior Court.

The day’s testimony concluded with French’s cross-examination by defense attorney Michael D. Schwartz. The hearing is due to resume Monday at 1:30 p.m. Judge Samuel Diaz Jr. will decide if there is enough evidence to keep Sanchez on trial for intentional homicide and assault with a deadly weapon.

Sanchez pleaded not guilty. He is not in custody.

The state attorney general’s office is pursuing the case after finding that Sanchez’s actions as a police officer – shooting Kenneth French after the 32-year-old hit Sanchez with an indiscriminate, unprovoked punch – were not reasonable. The Riverside County grand jury previously declined to indict Sanchez and District Attorney Mike Hestrin decided not to press charges.

The LAPD fired Sanchez after an investigation into his actions. In a civil case, a federal jury in October awarded $17 million to the estate of Kenneth French and his parents.

For the second day in a row On Thursday, there was testimony from a witness who said Sanchez believed Kenneth French shot him. But no weapon was recovered from French, who is intellectually disabled, and authorities said Sanchez was the only shooter.

Russell French told Murphy he had just handed his wife, Paola, 62, a sausage sample from a stand in the deli area and walked away. Kenneth was also near the stand. The next thing French heard was someone shouting “police officer” and his wife pleading, “Don’t shoot.” He then saw someone sitting on the ground pointing a gun at him.

“I said, ‘Don’t shoot. My son is sick,’ and things happened at lightning speed,” French testified. Suddenly, “We are all screaming in pain.”

Sanchez again sat at the end of the defense table Thursday, next to investigator Bobby Dean, writing notes on a yellow clipboard and whispering comments to Dean and Schwartz.

French said he lost a gallbladder and a kidney to the bullets and survived “by half a millimeter”, a doctor told him, when a bullet only did touch his pancreas.

But Russell French testified that he and his wife still suffered from physical and mental injuries.

“We have a policy at home,” he said. “She doesn’t talk about the pain. I’m not talking about pain. Otherwise, we’ll go down together.

Samira Shokoor testified she was in the deli when she saw someone pull a gun out of his shorts pocket as he fell. She ran when she heard the first shot.

“I was in disbelief to see someone shoot at Costco,” Shokoor said.

William Gagnon was in the TV section when he heard the shots. He testified that he walked towards the deli and, seeing four people lying on the floor, assumed there had been two shooters. Seeing Sanchez still holding a gun, Gagnon asks him where the second shooter is.

“He still has a gun,” Gagnon testified that Sanchez told him, pointing to Kenneth French.

Gagnon walked over to French and looked for a gun. He said he couldn’t find one.

Gagnon then held French’s hand until his death.


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