The garden hose nozzle that police thought was a gun.
The garden hose nozzle that police thought was a gun.
Long Beach Police Department

Long Beach Man Fatally Shot for Holding a Water Nozzle Had His Arms Outstretched As Though Pointing a Gun, Police Chief Says

Last December, 35-year-old LBC resident Douglas Zerby was shot and killed by police while holding a "weapon" that turned out to be a garden-hose nozzle.

Because there's been so much interest in the case, with rallies held in demand of more information, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell offered some new details this week, though the investigation is not complete.

At a press conference covered by several media outlets, McDonnell described the incident that began at about 4:45 p.m. on Dec. 12. Officers arrived at a Belmont Shore apartment after a resident reported a man with a gun on the landing of a neighbor's apartment. The item in Zerby's hand was actually a black, pistol-grip-style water nozzle not attached to a hose. Zerby waved it around and squeezed the trigger before pointing it in the direction of the officers taking cover in the home of the 911 caller.

Without announcing their presence, two officers opened fire, shooting Zerby multiple times in the chest, arms and lower legs.  

A third officer watched Zerby from more than 60 feet away through the telescopic sight of a rifle but did not fire, the Los Angeles Times reports.

McDonnell said that preliminary investigations, which includes autopsy reports, showed that Zerby had his arms outstretched and close together, as though pointing a weapon.

"Sadly, we will never know for sure what prompted Mr. Zerby to raise his hands and point the object in that direction or what he was aware of at that particular time, but that action ultimately resulted in the officer-involved shooting," McDonnell said.

Autopsy results showed that Zerby's blood-alcohol level was .42 and that he had valium and THC in his system at the time of his death.

Since the shooting, Zerby's family has called for criminal prosecution of the officers, believing they used unnecessary lethal force and did not follow proper protocol.

"There is nothing we were told today that changes the fact that my brother was never warned," Zerby's sister Eden Marie Biele told the Long Beach Press-Telegram at a protest held across the street from the press conference. "He never knew they were there, and he never had a chance."

More details over at Belmont Shore-Naples Patch and the Press-Telegram.  


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