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DA Won't File Criminal Charges Against Long Beach Police Who Shot And Killed Drunken Man

LONG BEACH (AP) — Police who shot and killed a drunken man they say pointed a pistol-grip water nozzle at them will not face criminal charges, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Thursday.

The veteran officers acted "lawfully in self-defense and in the defense of others" when they shot 35-year-old Doug Zerby on Dec. 12, 2010, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

Zerby's mother and the mother of his 8-year-old son have filed a federal civil rights and wrongful-death lawsuit against the city.

The family was not surprised that the district attorney's office declined to prosecute the officers and will continue with the suit, said their attorney, Brian Claypool.

"The family is determined as ever to prove in civil court that these officers acted recklessly and that this was an unjust and objectively unreasonable shooting," he said.

Zerby was drunk when he was spotted holding what neighbors and police thought was a gun as he sat on the front stoop of a friend's apartment.

According to investigators, "he was manipulating the object by pulling the lever, which caused a clicking sound similar to a handgun," and he was shot when he pointed the gun-like object at an officer.

Zerby was wounded more than a dozen times. The shooting spurred street protests by his family and friends and prompted months-long investigations by the district attorney's office, the county coroner's office and the Police Department.

The internal police review concluded that the officers did not violate department policy. The coroner's probe found that Zerby's wounds were consistent with someone sitting but "leaning forward with both hands close together and raised out in front of him," according to the district attorney's statement.

Claypool, however, contended that Zerby never lifted his arms or threatened police. He never even saw the officers, Claypool said, because they had sought protective cover and never identified themselves or ordered him to drop the supposed weapon.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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