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Attorneys file complaint against Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office after shooting death of teen

Family attorney Mark Merin said the more than 20 minute long chase spanning 15 miles went too far.

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. — Attorneys have filed a federal complaint against the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office for the shooting death of a teenager during a traffic stop.

"It was scary, and it was really, really traumatizing," said Valerie Kennedy, a witness to the shooting.

14-year-old Valerie Kennedy was inside the car back on May 18 when Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies tried to pull four teenagers over for a traffic violation. Instead, the 16-year-old driver, Xander Mann, took off, fearful of going back to juvenile hall, according to Kennedy.

"He was just a scared kid. He was scared. He didn't want to go back. He didn't deserve it," Kennedy said.

The complaint alleges excessive force, and family attorney Mark Merin said the more than 20 minute long chase spanning 15 miles went too far.

RELATED: 'He was just a scared kid' | Family of teen killed by deputy files claim against Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office

The pursuit came to a sudden end after the sheriff's office said "the vehicle attempted to use their car as weapon by driving towards law enforcement vehicles."

That's when sheriff's officials said Deputy Gerardo Zazueta shot Mann.

"How could you possibly justify shooting into a car occupied by teenagers because it was a traffic violation?" Merrin asked.

The video of the shooting was not posted. In an earlier news release, Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said Deputy Zazueta didn't activate his body-worn camera due to the "rapid nature of how this critical incident unfolded."

The lawyers in this case are now demanding a jury trial. 

RELATED: Video released of sheriff's deputy shooting, killing Modesto teen after high-speed chase


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