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Autopsy Results Help Long Beach Police Explain Why They Fatally Shot Man "Armed" With Water Nozzle

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Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell spoke at a news conference yesterday to publicize the autopsy report issued in the death of Douglas Zerby, a man fatally shot by LBPD officers in December when they mistook the garden nozzle he held for a weapon pointed at them. As part of an effort to "clarify outstanding issues," McDonnell "said a coroner's report showed that Douglas Zerby was hit 12 times with shotgun pellets and bullets from a handgun and was grazed three times," according to the LA Times.

According to the report, 35-year-old Zerby's "arms were outstretched and close together," reports Belmont Shore Patch. The autopsy supports the version of the story the officers involved gave, which indicate "Zerby raised his arms with the possible gun, pointed toward one of the officer[s'] hiding spots, and both officers felt they were threatened and fired."

Zerby's family remains concerned that the officers who responded to the call about a possibly intoxicated man did not take the time to identify themselves before opening fire. Reports from the crime scene indicate it was seven minutes from when the officers arrived to when Zerby raised his arms and the police opened fire.

McDonnell said: "Sadly, we will never know for sure what prompted Mr. Zerby to raise his hands and point the object in that direction or what he was aware of at that particular time but that action ultimately resulted in the officer-involved shooting."

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The report also indicates where Zerby's body was positioned during the shooting. It is not clear if he ever saw the officers who arrived on scene and crouched in defensive postures with their weapons.

One of Zerby's sisters told reporters "that her family remains grief-stricken but steadfast in intending to file a lawsuit to compel information about the case."

In addition to the findings about Zerby's arm positions and entrance wounds, "the autopsy also found that Zerby had a blood-alcohol level of 0.42% and had valium and THC in his system at the time of his death," concludes the Times.

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