News Column

'Water Nozzle' Shooting Garners $6.5 Million Award

April 5, 2013

A federal jury awarded $6.5 million to the family of a California man shot to death by police who mistook a water hose nozzle he was holding for a handgun.

The Santa Ana, Calif., jurors found Officers Victor Ortiz and Jeffrey Shurtleff violated the constitutional rights of victim Doug Zerby, were negligent and acted with malice or reckless disregard for his life during the December 2010 incident, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Zerby's son will receive $3.5 million in damages, $1 million will go to his mother, Pam Amici, and $2 million to his father, Mark Zerby.

Zerby was shot by the officers after they were called to the scene when someone reported seeing a man standing outside the Belmont Shore apartments in Long Beach waving a handgun, the Times reported.

Attorneys for Zerby's family allege Ortiz and Shurtleff did not attempt to identify themselves or order Zerby to drop his supposed weapon before opening fire. Zerby was shot 12 times.

Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, said he was disappointed with the verdict.

"The officers were dispatched to a call about a man with a gun, they arrived and saw what they thought was a gun, they saw a man point a 'gun' at them, and the jury found they don't have the right to defend themselves. That's concerning not just in this case, but for police officers across the country," he said.

Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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