Standing in front of police headquarters, family members of an unarmed college student who was fatally shot by a Long Beach police officer announced Wednesday they were seeking $28 million in damages.
Feras Morad, 20, a Cal State Long Beach student whose family said was an aspiring lawyer, was killed during a confrontation with officers on May 27.
"For the life of me I still cannot understand it, I still try to reason with it, I cannot get over it," Amr Morad, Feras’ father, said through tears. "How could this have happened to my son," he asked a crowd of reporters at a news conference during the announcement.
Feras' family, through their attorneys, filed a tort claim against the police department, the initial step in the proposed multi-million dollar lawsuit. They are also seeking to change policies and procedures in the department to avoid another death like their son's.
"I'm out of my mind," Feras' mother, Amal Morad said. "This should never happen."
Prior to the fatal shooting, Feras’ friends said he began fighting with them after taking mushrooms, a hallucinogenic drug, while studying. When Feras’ friends attempted to restrain him, he jumped through the glass of a second-story window, according to police.
In a released 911 call of the incident, a woman described an intoxicated man who she said either fell or jumped from a window, and was bleeding and acting "kind of irate."
Officer Matthew Hernandez, a 12-year department veteran, was named in the shooting death, which police said occurred after Morad refused to respond to verbal commands and non-lethal force.
Feras allegedly also said he would attack responding officers, according to police.
“That’s hogwash, that’s simply not true,” Morad family attorney Dan Stormer said. “How do you know it’s not true? Because we’ve talked to the witnesses who viewed what happened.”
Long Beach police have continued to defend the officer’s actions, saying he tried to subdue Morad by stunning him with a Taser and using a flashlight with force before using a gun.
Hernandez was taken off patrol duty but remains a full-time employee with the department in the Investigations Bureau.
The shooting remains under investigation.