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Family of slain Long Beach man outraged over police shooting, plans to file suit [Updated]

Candlelight vigil for Douglas Zerby, December 13, at the scene of a Sunday officer-involved shooting.

The family of a 35-year-old Long Beach man shot and killed by police while holding a hose nozzle plans to file a lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department, the slain man's father said Tuesday.

Doug Zerby, 35, was killed Sunday while sitting on a stoop playing with what police said appeared to be a weapon and pointing it as if it were a gun. But Zerby's family said the police acted irresponsibly, and they are outraged over what happened.

“This has got to stop,” said Mark Zerby. “If we have police doing this stuff, they need to be thoroughly screened. We’re hiring them to protect our lives, not take our lives.”

An evening vigil at the scene of the shooting Monday brought out droves of supporters with candles, flowers and messages.

Several mourners yelled “murder” to passing spectators and wrote invectives to Long Beach police on posters near the candlelight. One message read: "LBPD = Shoot First Ask Questions Later That’s Murder."

Zerby had been sitting on a friend's porch Sunday afternoon, waiting for the friend to come home because he was too drunk to drive. A neighbor saw him waving around a gun-like object and called the police.

Police officials said the object was actually a pistol-grip water nozzle, and when it was pointed directly at an officer, the officers opened fire, killing Zerby at the scene.

The police department, which has a history of frequent officer-involved shootings, had no new information Tuesday morning.

“All this information is preliminary,” said Sgt. Dina Zapalski, a spokeswoman for the Long Beach Police Department. “We can’t have exact answers on everything within 24 hours.”

[Updated at 2:18 p.m.: The family is beginning to conduct its own investigation into the incident, relatives said.

“We’ve hired a private doctor to investigate my brother’s body, a photographer to shoot photographs of him and the crime scene, and a team of private forensic investigators is being assembled,” said Zerby’s sister Eden Marie Biele.

She said her family has been approached by at least nine attorneys, over the phone and in person, hoping to represent the family. She said they will be spending the day deciding which one to retain.

“We feel that this is a case of wrongful death. My brother was murdered in cold blood,” she said. “The Long Beach Police Department needs to be held accountable, and justice needs to prevail on behalf of my brother.

"Hopefully we can help them prevent another family from having to go through another tragedy like this.”]


Man killed by Long Beach police was holding water nozzle, not gun

-- Nardine Saad

Photo: Candlelight vigil for Douglas Zerby, a Long Beach native shot and killed by police, on Monday. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (156)

Why are so many people so fixated on the "water nozzle"? Nobody really knows what happened there except the police officers, the dead man and witnesses.

People are so quick to blame the man who is now dead and unable to defend himself without knowing what actually happened. Conversely, people don't know what the police did other than what witnesses have accounted and from the police department's statement. Right now there are not a lot of facts. I think there are way too many people rushing to judgement. But I guess that is what we humans are best at?

The bottom line is could this have been prevented? I personally think a lot of officer involved killings are preventable with less than lethal weapons and other means of diffusing situations. Cops are humans too and susceptible to all the inadequacies of any other human being. But I don't think it is fair to call the police murderers until we know what happened and I also don't believe we can absolve the victim without know what happened either.

At the end of the day, I think you see people have outrage because of the neighborhood this happened in and the person it happened to.

I agree with what this guy said:
Karl | December 14, 2010 at 01:25 PM

Long Beach Police......and I was mad...when you guys blocked off the Daisy Lane Parade entrance to me and a couple of my friends of Saturday night...as we were supposed to be in the parade...my first parade in ten years...since my marching band days at Poly High School...and a couple of cops ruined it...good darn right for the audience to boo you cops for blocking the entrance on us...I was outraged. But the next day....you guys really done it...again...an unarmed man gets killed. I know what a gun looks like...and if I had a gun...and im approaching a guy that I think has a gun also...I would make myself known..and give him commands to drop his weapon.......another long list of killings by LBPD...at it to the Samoan guy who had cancer who got shot and killed by you guys on the northside....add it to the harbor patrol officer who killed the bum with a little 99cent store bike chain with a lock on it...add it to the skitzo black lady who was killed holding a little knife downtown...add it up.....as a 28 year old black guy "from the hood".....I see all this and I learn from this...im really loosing respect for cops more and more...and we are suppose to cry and pause when one of you guys get smoked?...maaan...save it...


Next time my neighbor makes me upset I will wait until he is watering his lawn, call in a crazed gunman, they roll up on my clueless neighbor.

No more neighbor upsetting me.

All legal. :-) With idiots to defend the triggermen to boot!

Ok I have to ask all you people if you really beleive a man, drunk or not, is going to point a garden hose nozzle at people with real guns like he's going to shoot them with it or would it make more sense that the PIGS figured out quickly that they messed up and made up that story to cover their own asses. Really people you actually believe the guy pointed a garden hose nozzle at the cops. C'mon. It's not illegal to be drunk or have a garden hose nozzle in your hands.

people ask me what i say to a dead cops wife

cops kill people everyday

thats life

those police officers are going to jail. don't they know they're only allowed to shoot people of color?

No a lawsuit will not bring him back, but what are they supposed to do? Just shrug their showlders and say oh well looks like the trigger happy police get another notch in there belts. I can't believe how many people here actually believe this guy really pointed a garden hose nozzle at cops like he was going to shoot them with it. But even if he did, they shot him in the chest SIX times with their side arms and TWICE with a shot gun. Sounds like they wanted to make sure he was dead.

Since so many people are saying that being drunk is not an excuse (although actually, the officers should absolutely have training dealing with drunk people!); what if he was deaf, or blind, or mentally ill, or developmentally disabled? What if he had sustained a head injury and was disoriented? What if he heard a prowler on his property and actually DID have a gun, for which he also had a license?? Since the officers apparently didn't even make their presence known before shooting him all of those things could have been a possibility (and several even if they had).

As tax payers and members of society we need to hold our public servants (and YES that's what police are) responsible for their own actions. Just accepting the job doesn't give you a free pass and make you a hero.

"My prayers and sympathies go out to the officers."
Why??? They totally messed up and now someone's dead. Next time it could be someone you care about.

Just another example of the Law West of the Pecos. Shot first and ask questions later. This was nothing less then murder by cop. The sad thing is the police always get away with these types of murders.

...This is ridiculous. If police are using terms like "a gun-like object" to justify shooting someone 20 times when he eventually & incidentally points it in their general direction, then they need to clarify who they are as a group.

They are trembling, trigger happy cowards...not heroes. They are fearful sissies who are very well paid to fulfill a job that asks them for courage in service to the community, while offering them vast perks, vast freedoms & enormous power - and yet they react like a gang of terrified children...shooting into the dark at the vaguest "bump in the night". If you lack the bravery to fill the boots, then don't go out into the street with a gun you aren't qualified to wear.

...by the way, what is a gun-like object? a stick, a pen, your fingers, a wallet, a cellphone? should they also shoot at people holding "grenade-like objects"? A baseball, an avocado, a wad of paper, a rock, a snow-globe?

Tell ya what...why don't you just murder whomever you want, whenever you want...and then put on your pretend-brave face & tell how "scared" you were, then we'll throw a parade for you & donate money to your annual policeman's ball, and talk about how brave you are...

Last I checked, being a cop didn't even break the top 20 most dangerous jobs.

Such a tragic story. A young man at the prime of his life taken away by occurrences that no one can explain in full. Rush to judgment by the police? Failure to comply with officer's commands? Playing with an item that looks like a gun while drinking is not a good idea. Nobody will ever understand why these things occur. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Zerby family for their devastating loss and to the LB Police officers who are involved in this tragic shooting.

I would strongly suggest that officers in PDs around this country BE REQUIRED to have their EYES CHECKED!!! It seems that in situations like this, the lame excuse is ALWAYS that it LOOKED LIKE A FIREARM. The officer who mistook his gun for a taser and shot a man in Oakland [earlier this year] also MISTOOK [he had the unmitigated hubris to request bail while his appeal is pending] . . . These people are put in positions where they must make life and death decisions . . . given that level of power, we can't have them behaving like dysfunctional 14-year olds afraid of their own shadows. Too much is at stake!!! Moreover, in this case OFFIER QUICKDRAW McGRAW was a LOADED WEAPON full of testosterone and just waiting to wreak havoc --- shooting someone 8 times --- what happened, couldn't he release the trigger!?!? Most people would have after 4 shots --- he needed 8. What if he had had 12 in his barrel --- he'd have used all of those, I suppose. This sort of thing can't continue --- clearly, these people need better training and to HAVE THEIR EYES CHECKED.

The individual had no idea that the police were there, they were under cover wathching him and decided to open fire without telling him to drop the "weapon" you have to be stupid to not understand that. Apparently a lot of you are.

Zerby did not knowhte police were there and he was not waving anything at aoyone, he was playing with the nozzle in his lap. The police were under cover and concealed from Zerby, they couldnt just tell him to drop the weapon? They had to just shoot? Really? What is wrong with you people?

So we cant even sit outside anymore and have something as innocent as garden hose nozzle in our hands without fear of being shot by the police?There was no excuse period for this shooting and your not going to tell me there wasnt 100 different ways it couldnt have been handled safely and the nosey neighbor has to share blame as well for not minding his own buisness,and to those rediculous comments on the cops having to protect themselves,or had no choice etc,this guy was shot 6 TIMES with a 9mm and twice with a 12 gauge shot gun.In what twisted way can anyone with common sense consider this appropriate or justified?

Good Job LBPD! Let everyone else monday night quarterback this incident. Whats new! You did what you were trained to do and your alive to talk about it. Its unfortunate of the outcome but no matter what action you took (beyond not doing anything) you would have been ridiculed and or sued!

It's ridiculous there's even a debate here. Don't point guns or pretend guns at the police and you won't get shot. And families like this one are part of the problem. Because they refuse to take responsibility and to accept that stupid behavior can have fatal consequences. Like texting and driving trains/driving or pointing gun-shaped-objects at police officers.

I sincerely hope the city doesn't settle and takes this all the way to trial. Case law on this is clear.

I live in LB. Hope I get called as a juror on that jury trial. If I can convince 11 other angry men, those officers will be exonerated and the family will have to accept the fact their brother, son, father had a problem with alcohol and that problem, left untreated for so long - eventually helped lead to his death.

How many of these posts are from policemen attempting to sway public opinion? I find it tough to believe that in LA where half the citizens are nearly communists, there's this many "he deserved it" comments. Don't forget, the cops put a lot of other people's lives in danger too. They did not clear the apartments of residents, then blasted away with two shotguns and multiple sidearms. They went in ready for a gun battle, and got one....with an unarmed man. Mistakes happen, but now a man is dead. Man up cops. I usually support the police, but after hearing the president of the LB police asso. on KFI I am DISGUSTED by them. Way to turn the citizens against you.

Im really sick of all the poeple saying how stupid to point a (water nozzle) gun at the cops and not expect to get shot... He wasnt that stupid nor are you, nor me. Why would I know this because I'm his friend and I knew Doug, There is only one HUGE problem, he didnt know there were cops because they never identified them as cops. They never said put your gun down, or LBPD. They justed spyed on him through the trees enough to see that he did have something in his hands, pop out around the corner and unload 6 x 9MM and 2 x shotgun blasts and turned him into swiss cheese. But wait, after that the cops thought gee I guess we should start to follow protocol now since the captin will be coming out so lets put him in handcuffs just incase he's Jesus and raises from the grave for a little revenge. I hope that people hear the truth! The cops have all the tools they need to end calls like this in a peacful way. Here's a thought, use a megaphone (Me) "Police, we received a call that you have a gun, please put your weapon down so we can talk" (LBPD) na lets just smoke this fool instead!....

"Zerby had been sitting on a friend's porch Sunday afternoon, waiting for the friend to come home because he was too drunk to drive. A neighbor saw him waving around a gun-like object and called the police."
Ah yes--a real paragon. At least his family will get rich off the taxpayers now.

Come to protect you? They unloaded enough ammo into that building its fortunate there wasnt anyone else nearby, a fact the police admitted they didnt know. Dumb pigs gotta use common sense, but hey... high school diploma only gets you so far.

This moron got what he deserved. If he was really pointing at cops in threatening manner what are the suppose to do? Let him fire the "gun" and see what happens next. The only relevant question should be is "Why was he shot so many times..." Good luck to this cops in the land of far left lawyers. I lived in Los Angeles most of my life and I am so glad to be far away from California.

Gee, he's not buried yet and theyre all about the lawsuit.

This was an execution, not self-defense.

LBPD has really screwed up this time and will not be wiggling out of this one.
The press conference was a desperate attempt to make any weak excuse they could for what happened. Didn't work.
They will be responsible for THEIR actions. The people of Belmont Shore who usually support the Police wholeheartedly won't forget and won't let this get swept under a rug.
I am one of those people and although I respect the dangers of the job police officers must deal with every day, this is a totally different animal.

I don't need to have been there to know that firing 6 rounds from a handgun and pumping TWO 12-gauge shotgun shells into someone that never fired a single shot is INSANE and criminal! End of case..jury that.

A nine year old with a plastic badge and two months of watching cop shows would have handled this better.
(Police! Drop it!) Yes, it could have been that easy.

Stop with the excuses and come clean.

RIP Zerby

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