"I know they murdered my son in cold blood," says Doug Zerby's mother, Pam Amici.
That was her emotional reaction to an L.A. County District Attorney's office finding that Zerby was shot and killed by Long Beach police last December in a justifiable manner. Now she and her family want Federal authorities to step in and investigation the case.
Zerby was apparently intoxicated when officers arrived at a Belmont Shore home on December 12, 2010. A neighbor had reported a man with a gun at or near the home. Three officers closed in on the scene. Exactly what happened then is murky.
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Police say eight minutes passed, and then Zerby held up what turned out to be a garden hose nozzle. At the time, officers thought it was a gun and opened fire. Zerby was killed.
The family's attorney, Brian Claypool, says the officers never identified themselves as police and never asked Zerby to drop what he had in his hand.
“Long Beach P. D. Drop your weapon," says Claypool. "That’s all these police officers had to do and Doug Zerby goes home alive on December 12th, 2010 to his little boy."
The District Attorney's report, released Thursday, says Officers Jeffrey Shurtleff and Victor Ortiz "acted lawfully, in self defense and defense of others."
Claypool and the family want the Department of Justice to step in and investigate both the D.A. and the Long Beach Police Department.
"One of the main elements of negligent homicide is recklessness," said Claypool. "This is one of the most reckless shootings I’ve seen in California history."
Efforts to reach the Long Beach Police Department for comment on the family's statements were unsuccessful.