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Man holding water nozzle killed by LB police

December 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A man believed to be armed was shot to death by Long Beach police on Sunday. The man was later found to be holding a water nozzle.Authorities responded to a report of a person with a gun in the 5300 block of East Ocean Boulevard of a Belmont Shore neighborhood about 4:40 p.m.

Officers saw a man believed to be armed with a handgun and took cover, but while waiting for backup officers, an officer-involved shooting occurred.

The suspect was declared dead at the scene after suffering a gunshot wound in the torso area. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office identified the man as 35-year-old Douglas Zerby.

During a news conference Monday, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said Zerby had pointed a black pistol-grip water hose nozzle at police officers.

Zerby allegedly pointed the object in a two-handed posture from a seated position that looked like what a person would do when they are about to fire a weapon.

Long Beach police said Zerby was drunk at the time. He was sitting on a porch waiting for his friend.

"There were, I believe, two rounds from a shotgun and six rounds from a handgun," said McDonnell about the shots fired by officers.

McDonnell offered his and his department's condolences to the family.

Zerby's family said he had a drug and alcohol problem, but asked why police couldn't do something else than shoot him.

"I know that they're trained, well paid, taught to make snap-minute decisions, but what I don't understand is how can you make a decision to do something and someone is actually sitting there," said Zerby's father, Mark. "

"I want my son back," said Zerby's mother, Pam Amici. "He was a wonderful young man. He loved the ocean and the sun. He was quiet, he was spiritual. He never hurt anyone. We really miss him a lot."

No officers were injured in the incident.

The family contends officers failed to identify themselves to Zerby upon arriving.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and Long Beach Police Department are investigating the fatal shooting.

It could be months before they're findings are made public.

Zerby is survived by an 8-year-old son.

Dozens of Zerby's friends and family members gathered Monday night for an emotional vigil as they try cope with what they call a senseless tragedy.

Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.