Family of man shot, killed by Long Beach police awarded $6.5 million


Still mourning the death of his son, Mark Zerby became emotional as he relived the day 35-year-old Douglass Zerby was shot and killed by Long Beach police.

Mark Zerby felt vindicated Thursday after a federal civil court jury awarded his family the $6.5 million and found two Long Beach police officers liable in the death of his son.

"I hope that this doesn't happen to anybody else," Mark Zerby said.

The unanimous decision also found officers Jeffrey Shurtleff and Victor Ortiz were negligent, and that they committed battery on Douglass Zerby and violated his civil rights.

"We are very much elated that the jury saw the case as we presented," said Garo Mardirossian, one of the attorneys who represented the Zerby family in the civil case.

Mardirossian says the Long Beach police officers opened fire on Douglass Zerby without any warning. Douglass Zerby was sitting on a balcony intoxicated and holding a water nozzle. Police say a 911 caller had led them to believe the metal object was a small handgun.

"What we were able to prove, that over the next eight minutes, they should have given a warning, they should have announced their presence," said Mardirossian.

According to Mardirossian his legal team was able to disprove police allegations that Douglass Zerby had pointed the water nozzle at officers, as if he were aiming to fire a gun.

"And part of the proof is pretty simple, because the shots from the shotgun struck Douglass right in the chest and they killed him," he said. "And if he were holding the nozzle...the water nozzle would have been shot, his hands would have been shot, and they were completely pristine, there was no damage to them."

Mark Zerby says he's still waiting for an apology from Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell. The police department told Eyewitness News on Friday they have no comment on the results of the case. The city attorney's office also said the attorney who handled the case was unavailable for comment.

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