A claim filed against the California Highway Patrol states Pedro Erick Villanueva drove his red Chevrolet Silverado truck 2 to 4 mph in the direction of undercover officers who never identified themselves before gunning down the 19-year-old in a Fullerton neighborhood.
Attorney Paul Kiesel filed the claim, generally the first step before a lawsuit is brought, on behalf of Villanueva’s family as well as a second claim for 18-year-old Francisco Orozco, a Silverado passenger who required elbow surgery due to CHP gunfire. No damage amounts are specified in the claims.
Villanueva and Orozco attended a July 3 Santa Fe Springs swap meet parking lot car club gathering known as a sideshow that was being monitored by the undercover CHP team investigating illegal street racing. The officers in street clothes and an unmarked vehicle followed the Silverado to an area of Fullerton that was unfamiliar to Los Angeles County residents Villanueva and Orozco.
The CHP has said the officers opened fire because Villanueva made a U-turn, drove toward them and failed to stop.
Orozco and the driver’s family claim the pair had no way of knowing the undercovers were law enforcement.
“They never once used a siren, a loud speaker or provided any warning whatsoever before they started shooting,” Orozco says in a statement. “They never identified themselves as law enforcement until after they stopped shooting.”
Villanueva’s killing spurred a protest at CHP headquarters and charges against a friend of the driver who is accused of making criminal threats against an officer.
“It‘s literally unexplainable why these two teenagers were shot,“ Kiesel reportedly told the Orange County Register in an interview. “There is no rational explanation.”