June 25, 2019

Action Alert:
Demand better training following Costco family shooting


18 June 2019 – A family relation says fatal shooting victim was non-verbal – and was not capable of starting a fight with an off-duty police officer at a Costco in Corona, California in which he lost his life.

Kenneth French, 32, was killed by an unnamed Los Angeles police officer following an argument of some kind. Police have somehow already concluded the non-verbal man was the instigator.

Rick Shureih, Mr French’s cousin told reporters: “This is a family that was unarmed and was just grocery shopping,” Shureih said on Facebook. “I’m sure this was a misunderstanding that got escalated for no reason!”

The unnamed officer also critically injured Mr French’s parents who were with him.  The officer is said to have had a child with him, and was treated at hospital for minor injuries; the child was unharmed.

Disability Rights California is one of many organisations that have been working to improve the situation for disabled people.  Their website says: “Many times, DRC has to investigate incidents involving police officers who encounter people who have mental health disabilities. Law enforcement officers are overwhelmingly the first responders to incidents involving persons with mental health disabilities who are in crisis. Despite the frequent interaction between law enforcement and individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, there are minimal training mandates to address these situations.”

One Pulse will be watching the case very closely, and has quite a number of questions; many of which point to police training issues:

*  How precisely did a trained officer not de-escalate the situation – particularly one involving two older people and a man with disabilities?

*The officer’s identity is crucial:  have they been involved in previous shooting incidents?

*The officer was said to be holding a child:  where was his loaded gun – in a belt?  holster?  Anywhere where the child could have been endangered?  Wouldn’t the officer’s best course of action have been to immediately remove themselves and their child from the situation?

*  What does Costco’s security footage show?

*  Do any witnesses have footage to either support or dispute the officer’s claim he was the victim of an unprovoked attack?

*  What precisely were the injuries the officer had to have hospital treatment for – or is there perhaps a standard procedure that when a police officer is involved in a contentious shooting that they are automatically sent to hospital – which, however minor the injuries – would be likely to impress a judge or jury?  As we know very often people wounded by police asking for medical treatment or hospitalisation are denied it.

*  How have the police concluded already that the fault lies with the French family?

And crucially:

*What kind of training has this officer received about recognising a disabled person, and how to deal with them?

ACTION:

While the trial is pending, there is not much we can do about this specific case. However, we can demand that training is improved.

Please contact LAPD’s  Commanding Officer of Police Training and Education  Luann P. Pannell through one of the channels below and give her the following message, personalized to your liking:

I am dismayed that another disabled person has been killed by a police officer, a member of the LAPD.

It is alleged that Mr Kenneth French, out grocery shopping at a Costco in Riverside, California with his family started a fight which your unnamed officer somehow, inexplicably, could only end by shooting French dead and critically shooting his parents.   Mr French, according to a relative, was non-verbal.

This is far from the first time a disabled person has lost their lives or been seriously injured –  avoidably in a situation involving police.  I want it to be the last time.

 You are in charge of training for the LAPD, and it is time that you step up and improve training for police who have to deal with disabled people.  There are a number of organisations lobbying for better treatment by police of people with special needs – you are in a key position to improve things and save lives.

 I want to hear from you as to what initiatives you have or are working on in this area.  I will also be watching closely how the officer’s trial goes ahead.  I understand you may not be able to comment on a live case, but I want to know at the end of it whether this officer acted according to all regulations, whether there was security footage, whether they endangered others including the child they had with them, and whether they were involved in any previous shootings.  I have many questions, and if they are not addressed by any trial, I will demand answers.  The ignorance shown by police nationwide towards the disabled is staggering and is costing lives; you can help prevent further such incidents in your area, and spread best practice.

LAPD Commanding Officer of Police Training and Education  Luann P. Pannell, Ph.D
Phone: (213) 847-3000
Email: pannelll@lapd.lacity.org
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lapdhq/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LAPDHQ

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