An emotional Mark Zerby, the father of 35-year-old Douglas Zerby who was shot and killed by Long Beach Police officers on December 12, 2010, told reporters that he felt vindicated with the unanimous decision the Federal District Court jury reached April 5. In it, the Zerby family was awarded $6.5 million and the two Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officers involved in the shooting were found negligent and liable in the death of his son.
Mark Zerby sued the City of Long Beach and LBPD officers Victor Ortiz and Jeffrey Shurtleff on civil rights violations claiming that the officers used excessive force when they shot and killed his son. On the day Douglas Zerby died, he had reportedly been waiting for a friend in the 5300 block of East Ocean Boulevard at about 4:30 p.m. when police received a 911 call of a man with a gun. Arriving on scene, the responding officers Ortiz and Shurtleff spent a reported eight minutes observing Zerby covertly believing he was under the influence of alcohol and holding a gun. What Zerby was holding was a disconnected water hose nozzle, when he was shot eight times by the two officers bearing a handgun and shotgun.
In his suit, Mark Zerby claimed that the officers acted with reckless disregard for life when they opened fire on his son without any prior verbal warning or commands.
“We are very much elated that the jury saw the case as we presented,” said Garo Mardirossian of Mardirossian & Associates, who represented the Zerby family in the civil case.
“What we were able to prove, that over the next eight minutes, they should have given a warning, they should have announced their presence,” Mardirossian said.
According to Mardirossian, his legal team, which included Thomas Beck, Adam Feit, Lawrence Marks, and Dale Galipo, was able to disprove police allegations that Douglas 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 Douglas 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.”
Of the $6.5 million judgment, Zerby’s son, River, was awarded $3.5 million, his father, Mark, $2 million, and his mother, Pam Amici, $1 million.
A long-time client of Executive Presentations, we congratulate Garo Mardirossian on his victory.
Below is KABC7’s news report on the verdict: