An off-duty Los Angeles police officer shot and killed a mentally disabled man he claims attacked him inside a Southern California Costco Friday.
The cop whose name has not been released also shot the man's parents who are now in critical condition at a local hospital. The cop was said to have been holding a child when he pulled out his gun and fired.
Corona police apparently took the word of the cop, telling local media he had been "attacked" by the man "without provocation" because all the witnesses interviewed so far by local media describe only an "argument" preceding the gunshots.
In fact, police initially told media that witnesses had told them an argument led to the shooting.
“From my understanding, from some people we talked to, there was apparently an argument inside. Some type of argument that ensued into a gun battle,” Lt. Jeff Edwards told reporters.
They even initially claimed they had a man in custody but perhaps that was before they discovered he was a Brother in Blue, which changed everything.
The cop was said to have shot at least six times, killing the man who was identified as Kenneth French, who was 32 years old.
Witnesses initially thought it was another mass shooting and rushed the doors in a panic, leaving many personal belongings behind, including phones and purses.
One of the men involved in the shooting was described as wearing a mohawk but it is not clear at this time if it was the cop or French, who is not wearing a mohawk in any of his photos.
French's cousin, Rick Shureih, took to the Facebook to express his anger over the shooting, saying his family members were the real victims, not the cop who is being made out to be the hero and the victim. He also said his cousin was non-verbal which may have made it difficult to engage in an argument as witnesses heard.
I’m not keeping quiet about this! People need to know! This is my family! These are the victims of the Costco shooting the other night. My cousin Kenneth was killed and his parents, my aunt & uncle were also both shot and are in ICU. Do they look intimidating to you? Did he really have to shoot them all? I’m posting this picture because the stories on social media have made them out to be the suspects, and the off duty cop the victim. This is a family that was unarmed and was just grocery shopping. Truth will come out! I’m sure this was a misunderstanding that got escalated for no reason! If anyone was a witness please get in contact with us.
Shureih was also interviewed by the Riverside Press-Enterprise where he described his cousin as a "gentle giant" who was mentally disabled.
“He just goes with the flow, he‘s a gentle giant,” Shureih said of his cousin during an interview in his Riverside County-area home, located east of Corona, on Sunday. Shureih lives a few miles from his aunt and uncle’s house, where Kenneth also lived.
Shureih said Sunday that Kenneth French was “non-violent, non-aggressive, non-verbal,” and “he has to be pretty much monitored,” Shureih said, still speaking of his cousin in the present tense during the interview. “He’s not the kind to trade words, so I don’t believe that a verbal confrontation happened.”
Next-door neighbor Marlon Calimlim said he only learned of Kenneth’s disability when he heard it on news reports after the shooting.
“They are a very nice couple…I can’t believe that a policeman would fire seven to eight shots,” he said, referring to the number of shots that Costco shoppers told reporters they heard in the store.
The neighbor said he could not recall Kenneth French ever challenging anyone or being aggressive. “They have been here four or five years. There was never an incident like that,” Calimlim said.
This is the statement provided by Corona police:
Investigation has confirmed an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department Officer was shopping at Costco with his family. Without provocation, a male unknown to the officer’s family assaulted the officer while the officer was holding his young child. This attack resulted in the officer firing his weapon, striking the male and two of the male's family members. The family members are being treated at local hospitals and are in critical condition. The off duty officer was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released. The off duty officer’s child was not injured during this incident. The Riverside County Coroners Office has identified the deceased male as 32 year-old Kenneth French from Riverside.
The Los Angeles Police Department said it is conducting an administrative investigation into the matter. KTLA reports the LAPD is gathering video evidence as part of its investigation so hopefully that video evidence becomes public soon by either department.