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Local

Judge OKs Officer ID Shield In Long Beach Shootings

Police group sought order after LAT disclosure
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(CBS)

(CBS)

LONG BEACH (CBS) — The identities of Long Beach police officers involved in shootings can be withheld under a temporary order issued by a judge, it was reported Friday.

The Long Beach Police Officers Association sought the order after a Los Angeles Times reporter asked for the identities of officers involved in shootings dating back to 2005. A union spokesman was unavailable for comment Friday.

Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon had planned to disclose at least some of the names on Jan. 10, The Times reported.

Shannon told the newspaper that city policy was to release names after all administrative and criminal proceedings were complete.

But attorneys for the union objected, saying in court filings that offering names to the public “poses a great threat to the safety of officers,” and could lead to criminals hunting down officers’ personal information on the Internet and threatening their families.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Di Loreto issued an order barring the release until a Jan. 18 hearing, the newspaper reported.

The records request was apparently sparked by the paper’s interest in a widely reported fatal shooting in Long Beach earlier this month.

Douglas Zerby was fatally shot by officers who apparently mistook the garden hose nozzle he was holding for a gun. A week later, an armed sexual assault suspect also was fatally shot by Long Beach police.

At least four other suspects were wounded in shootings by Long Beach officers in 2010.

Handguns were recovered at the scene of three of the shootings, and the fourth man was armed with a sharp instrument that he used to stab an officer.

The Los Angeles Police Department has a policy of releasing the names of officers involved in shootings, but unions representing police in Pasadena and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies have both fought disclosure.

On the same day that Di Loreto made his ruling, the Pasadena Police Department released the names of two officers involved in a Monday shooting.

Officers Alex Torres and Ken Florendo returned fire when Sherwin Williams of Fontana shot at them. Florendo was slightly injured in that exchange with Williams, an alleged gang member, the Pasadena Star-News
reported.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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