LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal jury on Thursday decided to clear a veteran Long Beach police officer of using excessive force in the shooting death of unarmed 20-year-old Feras Morad.
Officer Matthew Hernandez shot and killed Morad, of Woodland Hills, on the evening of May 27, 2015 in the Circle neighborhood of Long Beach.
At the time he was killed, Morad was bloodied and disoriented after he fell from the second floor of an apartment building and sustained serious injuries, according to the September 2016 federal complaint.
Hernandez approached Morad alone in response to a dispatch call rather than wait for backup that was on the way.
The 8-member jury, made up of five women and three men, deliberated for a day and returned the verdict Thursday evening.
Morad’s attorneys have called the shooting “unjustified and unnecessary” and sought damages to compensate Morad’s family for their loss.
In closing arguments on Wednesday, Dan Stormer of Hadsell Stormer & Renick said Hernandez “succumbed” to fear and panic.
Hernandez should have allowed three firefighters on the scene to restrain Morad and offer medical care, Stormer said.
In closing arguments, the officer’s attorneys called the shooting “tragic,” but said he gave “plenty of commands that were unheeded.”
Hernandez’s attorney Kyle Bevan, with Ferguson Praet & Sherman, said Hernandez was “forced to make a tough decision in a tense situation.”
During his testimony, Hernandez told his attorney Peter Ferguson he believed Morad was an immediate threat and he could “overpower me and take my weapon.”
Morad had no criminal record and never had a prior encounter with police.
When pressed for comment, Bevan said he would defer to the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office
Morad’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.