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

Longbeachpolice The 35-year-old Long Beach man killed in an officer-involved shooting Sunday was holding a water spigot, not a gun, Long Beach Police officials said Monday.

Two Long Beach police officers responded to a 911 call at 4:40 p.m. Sunday from a neighbor reporting an intoxicated man holding a "six shooter" that looked like an antique gun in the 5300 block of East Ocean Avenue.

"The officers had a position of cover and were observing the suspect while other officers were en route," said Sgt. Dina Zapalski, a spokeswoman for the Long Beach Police Department.

Zapalski said Douglas Zerby was in a seated position when he extended his arms while holding the gun-like object and pointed it at an officer.

The investigation revealed that Zerby was actually holding a black pistol-grip water nozzle with a metal tip, she said.

He was shot in the torso with a shotgun and handgun, then handcuffed, Zapalski said. He died at the scene.

Zerby's older sister, Eden Marie Biele, said she was "mortified" upon hearing of her brother's death.

"Our brother was killed for no reason," she said. "We're outraged. You can't get drunk in the city of Long Beach and not get shot? You're trying to do the responsible thing and not drive and you get shot? Is that standard protocol? They didn't wait for backup, they just shot him."

Zerby had been waiting on the stoop for his friend to come home. He often frequented the building after he had been drinking and was known among the neighbors, his sister said. It was a new neighbor who was not familiar with her brother who made the 911 call, she said.

The family will be holding a vigil at the scene of the shooting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.


Long Beach police kill man after gun report

-- Nardine Saad

Photo: The water nozzle Douglas Zerby was carrying when he was fatally shot by Long Beach police officers. Credit: Long Beach Police Department

Comments () | Archives (313)

The dead man's sister said: "You can't get drunk in the city of Long Beach and not get shot?"

Well, yes, you CAN get drunk in Long Beach and not get shot. You just can't point things that look like guns at police officers. Seems pretty simple to me!

Wow, now what excuse can there be for this one by police?

...a shotgun AND pistol AND handcuffs??? Sounds like over-kill to me. I am ashamed of what passes for PD these days. Blessing and peace to his family and may restitution be swift in coming.

Here we go again.
Its only obvious that if you're holding what seems to a gun and point it at an office, you're going to get shot. Common sense.
People were probably concerned about a drunk man holding what looked like a gun. I'm standing on the police departments side this time around.

Yes, you can get drunk. You shouldn't, however, point something that resembles a gun at a police officer.

Damn, was that water spigot painted black or something? Sure looks like a gun to me. If it was painted black by the manufacturer, then the manufacturer should be sued.

Immediate, irrational rush to judgement on the part of the family.

From the perspective of the officers, they were responding to a reported "man with a gun" call in the evening hours; upon arrival, they see a suspect armed with what, especially during night time; would appear to be a gun; the suspect points it at an officer, and the officer, fearing for his life, responds in kind, by neutralizing a possible threat. Completely and totally justified shootinig.

Does it make the family feel any better? No; not at all! However, the officers did exactly as they were trained to do.

Now the water-nozzle-gardening manufacturers need to color their products with bright gaudy colors instead of black. They did it with toy guns, why not water spigots?

My boyfriend was sitting watching tv one evening when he heard a loud knock at the door...
He opened it and there were 5 cops with guns pointed at him, and they grabbed him and handcuffed him. The rest of the force ran up the stairs and tore through his apartment...
He finally found out some old man had claimed to have seen a "sniper with a scope" on top of his roof. Im going to take a wild guess and say these calls happen often...
Not to say the man wasnt an idiot for pointing a lifelike water gun at an officer, but police should take more caution.

What's going on out there? So many times, the police end up killing someone when called to a situation. Isn't it possible to control an unruly or even threatening person without killing that person? It seems that a person could be stopped short of being killed.

Cops have become such cowards these days. They don't know the dif between a hose nozzle and a gun. They don't try to take other measures before shooting someone. They bully, taser and kill automatically. No humanity or skills necessary. This kind of behavior by law enforcement is outrageous and totally unnecessary. we pay for protection for all people, not for tyranny.
This also points out the dangers of the DHS the TSA NSA and these other Government departments making spies out of your next door neighbors. Idiot busy bodies who haven't common sense or more than one braincell operating at any given time. The fear mongering and BS war on terror FRAUD has gone far enough. When will people wake up and get a grip on reality? We are endangering our selves by letting these police thugs bully and hurt our own citizens.

It's tragic that this guy died, but everyone except hard core police haters is going to understand why the officer(s) shot. Look at the photo. Looks like a gun to me. If he was carrying it around with him, it certainly seems like he meant for it to appear like a gun. If he pointed it towards officers then he made to decision to have the police engage him with their weapons. Police can't "wait for backup" to arrive when they think someone is about to shoot them.

Idiotic to point something that looks like a handgun and he wasn't watwering the lawn. Gee, couldn't the cops just have shot it out of his hand? :)

blame it on the police

This has got to stop. Only in third world countries with dictatorships and a total disregard for the law does the police shoot to kill first and investigate later. It is happening too many times in California for it to be a coincidence.

I know the training of the officers requires them to take strong action, but shoot to kill? What happened to evasive actions? What happened to shoot to disable?

The legal system has got to stand up for the victims and take punitive and appropriate action against the officers and convict them with lengthy jail sentences for the message to sink in. The legal system CAN NOT let the men in blue hide behind the cover of their badge.

Shame on the officers for their actions. This is America. A Country of Laws for ALL, with and without a badge.

How is a cop supposed to be able to tell the difference between a real gun and a water nozzle when the nozzle...looks just like a gun! Everyone knows not to point things that look like weapons at the cops or act like you have a weapon at all. This was purely death via drunkeness and stupidity.

no comment from lbpd while they get their story straight and reports written supporting the same story.
rip my fellow lb'r and may justice come to those who did this.

This is an outrage! It makes no since that the Police Of Long Beach keep getting away with brutal travesty in the community. This was an act of sheer Police brutality!

Tragic, but the police were in the right on this one. If my husband were a cop, and someone was drunk and holding that like a gun, and pointed it at him, I'd want him to shoot. It is not that you can't wander the Long Beach streets drunk. It is just that you can't do so while holding a gun-like object and pointing it at anyone, much less a cop.

Well, this is what happens when you point a gun at the cops. Even though it wasn't a gun, what were the cops supposed to do, wait to get killed themselves? no, they did what their trained to do if they feel their lives are in danger, shoot.

Now, if I hear later that the guy was black or a mexican and people protest this shooting, I'll be mad. Plus even someone drunk knows better then to point something even resembling a gun, at a cop is asking to be shot.

Condolences go out to both parties . . . lives on both side are changed forever. Please keep praying for our men and women in public safety. They take risks and make split-second decisions so we don't have to.

Looks like a gun to me.

You can get drunk in Long Beach and not get shot, you just can't start pointing things that look like guns at the cops, especially at night and not get shot.

This is atrocious, as always-great job, LAPD. Great job.

Drunk guy...sitting outside on chair with a pistol grip nozzle. Radio call is giving to LBPD about guy with gun from neighbor. So, LBPD would have not even been there if neighbor did not see drunk guy with what looked like a gun. LBPD arrives and drunk guy waves pistol grip water nozzle in front of police officers...WELL COME ON PEOPLE...COMMON SENSE!

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