By David M. Greenwald
Oakland, CA – When Rob Bonta was appointed California Attorney General, he promised to crack down on police shootings. On Monday, his office announced they were filing charges against one off-duty officer in a 2019 Costco shooting, and had opened an investigation against another.
Former Los Angeles Police Officer Salvador Sanchez, 30, was arrested and charged with felonies for alleged voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semiautomatic firearm. This was the result of an off-duty shooting that occurred during a Costco shopping trip in Corona, California, in 2019.
According to the AG’s Office, the charges were announced after the conclusion of proceedings at the local level and a subsequent review of the incident by the Attorney General’s Office as authorized under Article V of the California Constitution.
Sanchez was arrested this morning in Riverside County.
“Where there’s reason to believe a crime has been committed, we will seek justice,” said Attorney General Bonta.
“That’s exactly what these charges are about: pursuing justice after an independent and thorough review of the evidence and the law. Ultimately, any loss of life is a tragedy and being licensed to carry a gun doesn’t mean you’re not accountable for how you use it. No matter who you are, nobody is above the law,” the AG added.
According to court documents, on June 14, 2019, Sanchez, while off duty, shot and killed 32-year-old Kenneth French inside a Costco.
In addition, Sanchez a shot and wounded Kenneth’s parents, 58-year-old Russell and 59-year-old Paola.
Following a review of the incident by the Attorney General’s Office, Sanchez now faces a total of three felony charges for his actions that resulted in the death of one individual and the serious injury of two others.
AB 1506 was signed into law on September 30 of last year. Ironically, Bonta, while in the Assembly, co-authored the legislation that now requires for the first time that the California DOJ investigate all incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state.
As the AG explained earlier this year, these critical incidents had been primarily handled by local law enforcement and district attorneys.
“One of the most important tasks ahead for public safety and our society is building and maintaining trust between our communities and law enforcement,” said Bonta in July.
“Impartial, fair investigations and independent reviews of officer-involved shootings are one essential component for achieving that trust. Today, California is strengthening our state’s mechanisms for accountability and transparency in investigations of officer-involved shootings. These cases are never going to be easy, but the California Department of Justice will follow the facts and seek to ensure every Californian is afforded equal justice under the law.”
Effective July 1, 2021, the California Department of Justice will investigate and review for potential criminal liability all such incidents covered under the new law, as enacted in California Government Code section 12525.3
On Monday, under that law, the DOJ will review for potential criminal liability an officer-involved shooting (OIS) that occurred in Bakersfield on Saturday.
The shooting resulted in the death of one individual and occurred after the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) responded to multiple disturbance reports beginning at approximately 12:35 a.m. BPD officers were also reportedly involved in a short vehicle pursuit.
Following notification by BPD, the California Department of Justice’s California Police Shooting Investigation Team for Southern California immediately deployed to the scene of the OIS. Alongside BPD, the California Department of Justice is investigating the incident. Once the investigation has been completed, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.