One night in late May, Feras Morad either jumped or fell out of a second-story window in Long Beach. Blood covered the Moorpark College student. He appeared confused.
Someone called for help. Minutes later, police arrived. Exactly what happened next is in dispute. But the incident ended with police fatally shooting the unarmed 20-year-old.
The killing on May 27 left friends and family grasping for answers. The Woodland Hills man had graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average from high school, where he competed nationally on the speech and debate team. He does not appear to have a criminal history, according to public records.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that my brother is gone. I don’t know how this happened,” Morad’s sister, Ghada Morad, 16, said at his vigil last week. “I don’t know how this could have happened to someone like him.... Even if he did something wrong, he shouldn’t have died.”
Police say the officer opened fire after Morad fought with him.
The officer was called to the 4600 block of East 15th Street about 7:30 p.m. on a report of a person leaping or stumbling from a second-story window. The caller said the person needed medical attention, was acting erratically and was possibly violent, according to a 911 audio recording released by Long Beach police.
The officer arrived and confronted Morad. The officer told him he was there to help, according to the department’s statement. But Morad “advanced” on the officer, who fired a Taser twice, officials said.
A “physical struggle” ensued and the officer struck Morad with his flashlight, said David Hendricks, deputy chief of the department’s investigative bureau. During the struggle, the two men momentarily separated, Hendricks said, though he wouldn’t say how far apart they were. Then Morad allegedly advanced again and the officer shot him, police said.
Kareem Morad, a cousin of Morad, told The Times last week that he had made a “silly mistake of experimenting with [hallucinogenic] mushrooms and, unfortunately, he had a bad reaction to it. He needed help, and he didn’t get the help he needed.”
On Thursday, protesters, including some from Black Lives Matter, demonstrated with Morad’s family and friends outside the Long Beach Police Department. A day earlier, more than 400 people gathered at a park in Woodland Hills for a candlelight vigil. One after another, people stood up and spoke about Morad’s intellect, humility and leadership.
They questioned whether Morad was threatening the officer or if the officer reasonably believed he was in danger before firing his gun.
They also claim that Morad had his hands up when he moved toward the officer.
The incident marked the fourth officer-involved shooting this year in Long Beach and the 25th in the last three years, the department said. Eleven people were killed in those incidents.
No police dashboard camera or officer body camera captured the confrontation, Hendricks said.
Morad’s family say he was the last person anyone would imagine getting into a confrontation with police — or anybody, for that matter.
After graduating from high school, Morad went to Moorpark College, his sister said. He planned to transfer to Cal State Long Beach in the fall and wanted to go to law school.
“He was a violence-last guy,” said Joey Cohen, 20, who served with Morad in the ROTC. “Always used his words.”