An attorney for the family of a 20-year old national debate champion who was shot and killed in 2015 by a Long Beach police officer — who was subsequently cleared of excessive force claims — vowed Friday to appeal.
A day after a Los Angeles federal jury rejected wrongful death claims of excessive force and negligence brought by the parents of Feras Morad against Officer Matthew Hernandez and the city of Long Beach, plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Stormer expressed sorrow for the death.
“We are deeply saddened by the jury’s failure to find liability,” Stormer said. “This was the brutal slaying of an unarmed, disoriented, harmless young man by an out-of-control police officer. We will appeal.”
Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin said the officer had no other option but to shoot Morad.
“This was a tragic case for everyone involved,” Parkin said. “However, Officer Hernandez was forced to use deadly force as a last resort in a life-threatening situation and the jury found that he acted reasonably.”
After nine days of testimony in downtown Los Angeles, the jury deliberated for about seven hours before returning the unanimous verdict in favor of defendants, finding that Hernandez did not use excessive force when he fatally shot Morad on the evening of May 27, 2015, in the 4600 block of East 15th St.
According to witnesses and court documents, Morad jumped or fell out of a second-story window into an alley while under the influence of an unknown substance.
Stormer said that after Morad fell, several fire department personnel arrived to render aid, but were prevented from doing so by the officer.
Hernandez testified that Morad resisted orders, became aggressive and came at him with fists clenched, prompting the officer to shoot in self-defense.
Morad was a nationally ranked debater and graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills who was transferring to Cal State Long Beach.