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Attorney says Long Beach officers fired at man holding nozzle without reassessment

Zerby An attorney for the family of a man shot to death by Long Beach police as he held a pistol-grip hose nozzle claims the two officers hit Doug Zerby numerous times with fire from a handgun and shotgun and failed to re-survey the situation after the first few shots.

The allegations are among the findings Brian Claypool said he will present at a news conference Friday based on his initial investigation into Sunday's shooting of Zerby, 35, outside an Ocean Boulevard apartment.

Zerby’s family said it  plans to sue the Long Beach Police Department.

Claypool said Zerby was shot multiple times as one officer unloaded his handgun and another fired his shotgun two or three times. Initial findings from Claypool's investigation shows the officers failed to reassess the situation, which is usually required after initial shots are fired, he said.

Zerby had been sitting on the stoop of a friend's house waiting for the friend to return. He often visited the apartment after drinking and was known to neighbors, his sister said.

A new tenant unfamiliar with Zerby called 911 Sunday to report an intoxicated man holding a gun in the upscale Belmont Shore neighborhood.

According to police, two officers responded and took cover, waiting for backup. But before additional officers could get in position, Zerby clutched the handle of a nozzle shaped like a pistol and extended and pointed his arms toward an officer, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said earlier this week.

Fearing for their safety, officers opened fire, McDonnell said.

Zerby died at the scene after being handcuffed.

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Doug Zerby and then-fiancee Tina in an undated picture. Credit: Family handout / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (41)

I think the attorney's "initial investigation" also showed that the City of Long Beach potentially has lots of money to give him!

I am pleased to see that this is moving in a direction the would hopefully lead to charges being filed against the " officers " involved in the murder!! I for one would LOVE to see a federal investigation into this case as well as the dept. This type of gross over reaction is un called for!!! Mr Zerby was brutally murdered, a man in Santa Ana was murdered in front of his wife and child, 7 sherriffs were in a brawl in a restaurant/bar in Monterey Park, a CHP " officer " was caught stealing cash, Rialto " police " were caught having group sex with a stripper while on duty.... The list just keeps growing!!!! These are " public servants " and we the public are supposed to trust and obey them??????

Ever notice how "brave" police are when the ratio is two to one? .....or even more.!

Now suddenly they make up the statement that he pointed the hose nozzle at them. Yeah, right.

If they were under cover, then how would he know where to point?

Also, what color was the nozzle? Was it the normal safety orange, thereby showing it NOT be a gun?

Sorry, but the cops blew it on this on, and the coverup has started.

Any second now I'm sure that Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton will be arranging a demonstration against Long Beach Police for violating this man's civil rights.
Ha? what? oh he's white?..............Never mind!!!!

Now where are all the police trolls online saying the officers acted 100% correct when a lawyer with a JD who is an expert on the protocol of the department and the law has found the two officers negligent for not following those rules. Police officers have HS diplomas, this attourney has a doctorate in law. Going to be hard for the HS educated trolls to argue this one

Nice 70's photo, how about a newer photo. I would think the Pistol gripped nozzle was a gun at night also.

Just a stupid question here...Why do you handcuff a guy you just shot multiple times and now know that all he was holding was a gardenhose nozzle? Where do these Long Beach cops train??? Seattle???

"According to police, two officers responded and took cover, waiting for backup. But before additional officers could get in position, Zerby clutched the handle of a nozzle shaped like a pistol and extended and pointed his arms toward an officer, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said earlier this week.

Fearing for their safety, officers opened fire, McDonnell said."

I bet the officers are the only people who saw that action too!

This is MURDER by police and they will get away with MURDER once again!

Who will protect the people; not police anymore. They can't be trusted there part of the problem!

The family is suing? Really? Its an unfortunate incident. When I saw the pic of the nozzle he held, IT looks like a gun! Can you imagine what it looks like in the dark? How about the family do a television service announcment about the wrongs of being an alcoholic.

Now the police will say we should ban garden hose nozzles, hot glue guns, hair dryers, cordless drills, and carving knives, water pistols, and anything that we can put in our hands and point.

To David and Tannim: You two couldn't have said it better! There really isn't much more I could say against these cops (Murderers) that hasn't already been said. Bottom line, they screwed up REALLY bad on this one!
"Fearing for their Safety" will always be an excuse to commit MURDER by Police Officers. Plain and Simple!!!!!!!!!

When was that photo taken? It looks like the "Dukes of Hazard" days back in the 70's. Anyway, the LBPD really don't have a leg to stand on with this one!

The garden hose nozzle looked like a gun. It was not a flourescent color. It was black. The neighbor who called the police said it looked like a gun. I think if it were bright orange, the neighbor wouldn't have thought that. It also was not attached to a garden hose. He was pointing it at people in the complex like it was a gun, according to the neighbor.

@erw: You are so naive. "The lawyer with a JD" is set to make A LOT of money from this. Of course he is going to say LBP shot the man without cause. What else would he say?? Wake up.

What's the most telling is police officers' own reaction, which can be seen at their own forum at officer dot com. Hardly there's any of them whose comment does not start with "good shot". Go and check it out, the thread called "Man Shot Pointing a Garden Hose at Police", or search for this title on google.

You cop haters are a dime a dozen, and misinformed as always. There is no requirement to reassess until you believe it is appropriate to do so. I guarantee that the decease, while tragically engaged in conduct that got him killed, did not react to being shot initially and probably continued to exhibit the threatening behavior. Now what will follow:

The attorney will sue only because of the deep pockets of the city. It will settle out of court before trial for a mere ten to twenty thousand, far less than it will cost the city to defend itself at trial and be vindicated by a jury that is representative of actually reasonable people, unlike the unenlightened ones who post anti-cop drivel on this forum...

To Jimmy: I don't remember when being an alcoholic made it okay to be shot and killed.

When confronted by police, particularly at gunpoint, immediately drop whatever you're holding and put your hands up. Works everytime. Very unfortunate loss of life but completely avoidable.

I think this was a terrible mistake, but he was drunk and point an object that did look like a gun. My condolensense go out to the family, but what should have these police office done wait to see if they was a real gun and put their own lives in danger.

Bottom line is, did the police identify themselves? Seems like if you are taking cover, then you should feel "safe" that's the point of taking cover right? In that moment(s), an individual should be able to determine if it is in fact a weapon an individual is holding. What's next, man gunned down holding a foot-long sandwich wrapped in foil? Police shoot man thinking it was a bazooka. Please.

@erw, thank you, finally someone else points out something that is blatantly obvious, the education levels of officers are just ridiculous. Why not just go to the local bus station to recruit?

This screaming ambulance chasing attorney will be entertaining during the civil trial. Problem is that most jurors look at these lawyers as clowns. Afraid the city will win this one just as they have prevailed in every other police shooting or misconduct case.

Why did the cops not identify themselves? Simple, they are not required to ID themselves if it places them in danger. When a crook has a gun in hand, he will shoot the first idiot that says "Police!" or drop his weapon, a fifty-fifty proposition.

There are not to many out there willing to stake their lives on a fifty-fifty proposition.

And for the fool who thinks it's "safe" to identify yourself behind cover, think again. If you are safely behind cover you cannot see the suspect, which is a really bad thing. Do you honestly believe the crook is honor bound to remain in the same position once the cop has secured his cover?

For all the fools who try to second guess the cop, I encourage you to recreate the scenario with paintball guns. You will be shot by the suspect every time, I promise...

The family deserve our condolences, but we have to ask why they would leave a drunken man (intoxicated enough not to drive) outside unsupervised, much less allow him walk to his friend's house.

The officer involved in the BART incident was grossly negligent. But this one's a bit different. From a distance, that nozzle would reasonably appear to be a gun.

Although I feel for the family, the tragedy is that the guy pointed an object shaped like a gun at police. There was a picture of it a few days ago with another article. It looked like something you would not want to bet your life was not a gun. When police fire, they do so with the intent of stopping a perceived lethal threat. If you think something is trying to kill you, you do not try to just wound it. If you fail or think "that's enough" and you're mistaken, you're the one who goes to the morgue. Police cannot be expected to play nice with their own lives and the simplest way to avoid this situation is don't drink and point. Sure this guy meant no harm, but he was in the wrong place, in the wrong condition, with the wrong idea at the wrong time.

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