[UPDATED:] In-Custody Death and Police Killing of Andres Ramirez Put DA's New Disclosure Policy to the Test
Original Post, December 13, 4:24 p.m.: Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on Thursday announced a new policy for releasing to police agencies more details about his office's state-mandated investigations into officer-involved shootings and deaths of people in custody. By the next night, he had a new police killing of a man to put to the test and, this morning, another in a spate of recent in-custody deaths.
Santa Ana police say a call came in about gang members loitering in an alley in the 1100 block of Poplar Street Friday night. At about 9:40 p.m., two officers were involved in the shooting of Andres Ramirez, 21, of North Carolina. He died about 12:14 a.m. Saturday.
A 48-year-old, yet-to-be-identified man held in the Men's Central Jail medical ward in Santa Ana was found unresponsive by Orange County sheriff's deputies at 3:15 a.m. today. Officers performed CPR but were unable to resuscitate him, according to the OCSD.
That's it as far as details for public consumption, but to be fair these incidents did just happen.
By the way, the new Rackauckas policy came at the request of Anaheim Police Chief John Welter. The first case getting the expanded treatment is the death of Colby Koenig, 25, of Foothill Ranch. He was gunned down by officers in Laguna Beach after police say he drove his 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution 100 miles per hour on the wrong side of Coast Highway before crashing into five cars at the St. Ann's Drive intersection. His family filed suit against the city.
For more immediate information about police shootings and in-custody deaths, the media is generally forced to rely on eyewitnesses and peeved family members, as is the case across the county line in Long Beach, where 35-year-old LBC native Douglas Zerby was shot and killed in Belmont Shore by police around 5 p.m. Sunday.
Police there claim officers were responding to a call of a man with a six-shooter gun in the 5300 block of East Ocean Boulevard. Officers discovered a man who seemed to be intoxicated holding a weapon, and when he pointed it in the direction of two officers, they opened fire, police say.
It turned out Zerby was on his friend's porch holding a garden hose nozzle. As the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports, Zerby's devastated family claims the cops did not follow proper police procedures, that they should have first verbally ordered the man to drop his nozzle before resorting to blowing him away. Witnesses tell the paper Zerby was known to be a heavy drinker, but he was never known to be violent.
His family honors him at a candlelight vigil at 5:30 this evening at Ocean and Glendora Avenue. Anyone can attend.
Last week's OCDA statement on the new disclosure policy (which obviously doesn't cover Long Beach) follows on the next page . . .