Police kill man holding water 'gun'
Published 14/12/2010 | 09:55
Angry relatives of a man fatally shot by police who apparently mistook a pistol-grip water nozzle he held for a gun are lashing out at officers, saying they made no effort to contact him before opening fire.
However, police officials say Douglas Zerby's behaviour prompted the officers' response.
"As the subject was in a seated position, he used a two-handed pistol-grip hold on an object with his arms fully extended," Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said. "Somebody that is impaired and waving what appears to witnesses and police to be a handgun. That's what the officers were faced with."
Zerby pointed it at one of the officers and two officers fired their weapons, a handgun and a shotgun. A total of eight shots were fired - two from shotguns and six from a handgun, Mr McDonnell said.
Zerby's sister, Eden Marie Biele, said officers made no attempt to talk to her 35-year-old brother or get his attention before shooting him to death.
"They didn't say 'Put your hands up' or 'Freeze' or anything," Biele said. "He was killed in cold blood."
Biele was among the family members whose sobs were heard among Mr McDonnell's explanations of the events leading to Zerby's death on Sunday.
"This is a very unfortunate set of circumstances and leaves the family to deal with it here," Mr McDonnell said, offering his condolences to the Zerby family.
The Long Beach officers were dispatched to an apartment building after two people reported a man with a gun sitting on a backyard porch Mr, McDonnell said. In an excerpt of an emergency call played for reporters, a male caller said the man appeared to have a "tiny six-shooter".
Biele said the family is considering legal action over the shooting.