By Melissa Chan
January 25, 2016

The parents of an 18-year-old California man killed by police last year allege an officer gunned down their son for no reason and then erased videos to cover up the shooting, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the city.

Sammy Villarreal’s family claims the teenager was unarmed and was not posing a threat when an Indio cop opened fire while Villarreal was behind the wheel of a vehicle in an apartment complex’s parking lot on Oct. 14, 2015. Police say Villarreal tried fleeing in the car after one officer approached the driver’s side on foot and another walked up to the passenger’s side, The Desert Sun reports. The teen accelerated backwards and crashed into a police car, the newspaper said.

That’s when one of the officers opened fire, striking Villarreal at least once through the driver’s side window, according to the lawsuit. Villarreal’s parents say the shooting was unjustified because neither officer was in the path of his vehicle. The officer’s use of force “shocks the conscience,” the lawsuit says.

The incident was captured by security cameras and a building manager’s cell phone, according to the lawsuit, which alleges the officers seized and erased the footage. The Indio Police Department declined to comment Monday, citing pending litigation.

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