An ex-Los Angeles police officer who fatally shot a developmentally disabled man who shoved the off-duty lawman to the floor of a Corona Costco during an unexplained confrontation that led to the victim’s parents being shot pleaded not guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.

Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 32, of Corona was arrested in August by California Department of Justice agents following a monthslong investigation.

Along with manslaughter, Sanchez is charged with two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm resulting in great bodily injury.

The defendant was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge O.G. Magno at the Riverside Hall of Justice and remains free on a $155,000 bond.

In announcing the charges against Sanchez last summer, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that the case was about “pursuing justice” and reaffirming the principle that “nobody is above the law.”

Sanchez’s attorney, David Winslow, responded that the state’s case was “a political stunt (rooted in) a politically motivated program by the California attorney general to prosecute police officers.”

The shooting occurred on the evening of June 14, 2019, inside the Costco at 480 N. McKinley St.

Kenneth French, 32, was killed, and his parents, Russell and Paola French — all of Corona — were critically wounded.

The family filed a civil suit against the LAPD, the city of Los Angeles and Sanchez at the end of 2019, alleging negligence, civil rights violations and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. A Los Angeles jury in November ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them $17 million in damages.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in September 2019 took the matter to the 19-member county grand jury, and the jury declined to indict Sanchez.

After the DOJ announced its case against Sanchez, District Attorney Mike Hestrin reiterated that “all known and available evidence” had been presented to jurors.

He told reporters at the conclusion of the grand jury proceedings that “we had to put our passions and emotions aside and marry the facts with the law.” He denied Sanchez had been favored with “special treatment” because he was a law enforcement officer.

In the summer of 2020, the Los Angeles Police Commission determined the Costco shooting reflected unjustifiable use of force by Sanchez, and he was booted from the police force a month later.

The victims were shopping when they approached a food sample table with sausages, where the defendant was also standing, holding his then-18-month-old son. No one has disputed that, for reasons still unknown, Kenneth French shoved the off-duty lawman to the ground.

According to Winslow, Sanchez was dazed, and when he saw his son next to him screaming, he “had no choice but to use deadly force.”

“At the time of the incident, he believed he was protecting himself and his baby from being killed,” Winslow said.

Tapes from body-worn cameras of Corona police officers who went to the scene captured statements from Sanchez indicating that he initially believed Kenneth French was holding a weapon. But the victim was not armed, according to police.

Russell and Paola French said they pleaded with Sanchez not to shoot, telling the officer that their son, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was largely nonverbal, had psychiatric trouble. Then-Corona police Chief George Johnstone said detectives confirmed 10 shots were fired.

Store security surveillance tapes showed the victims were backing away from Sanchez when the gunfire erupted.

Kenneth French was shot once in the shoulder and three times in the back, while Paola French was shot in the back and her husband was shot in the abdomen, resulting in the loss of a kidney.

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