On Monday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies fatally shot Dijon Kizzee in Westmont. The incident has caused outrage among residents who are alarmed by the officers’ use of deadly force–and have raised questions about what actually happened.
The Sheriff’s Department’s account of events is that the deputies on the scene saw Kizzee riding his bicycle and believed him to be in violation of vehicle codes (a spokesperson for the department was not able to specify which vehicle codes).
The department says deputies attempted to engage Kizzee, but he dismounted the bicycle and ran away. The deputies say they chased him and when they caught up, Kizzee punched one of the officers. In their version of events, he then dropped a jacket and, when he did, an item they believed to be a gun fell to the ground. It was when he allegedly moved toward the item that they opened fire, shooting what is believed to have been 15 to 20 rounds, hitting him an unspecified number of times. LASD claims a gun was recovered from the scene.
Several points of the LASD account have been contested by eye witnesses, many of whom came out of their homes amid the midday pursuit and watched the altercation.
“They say the man punched the deputy, but I never saw that happen,” Alida Trejo, a neighbor who watched the incident, told the Los Angeles Times.
Another neighbor, Latiera Irby, told the Times that she watched deputies fire at Kizzee while he was already on the ground. “He had nothing in his hands,” she recalled.
“They shot four times initially, where you knew the victim was gone, and then there were 11 more shots that persisted,” witness Richard Richmond told CBS Los Angeles. “You saw, [Kizzee] was like ‘Hey man, don’t touch me!’ and then it was like boom, boom, boom… there was no attempt at de-escalation.”
Neither deputy accounts nor witness accounts claim that Kizzee pointed a firearm at the officers.
Multiple security cameras captured portions of the incident, though no one video offers a clear view of the complete story. One piece of footage clearly shows a physical scuffle between the deputes and Kizzee. In the clip, it appears he tries to run away from them, but falls. Once he is on the ground, both deputies are seen shooting.
Kizzee’s family is being represented by attorney Ben Crump, the same attorney who represents the family of Kenosha, Wisconsin, police shooting victim Jacob Blake.
Unlike LAPD, LA County sheriffs deputies are NOT required to wear body cameras, so there's no known footage of what happened. If you witnessed this incident or have a video of it, DM it to my account NOW.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 1, 2020
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents the area where the incident took place, called on California’s Attorney General to launch a formal investigation into the killing of Kizzee and what she calls a “pattern of abuses” by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Whatever details the sheriff’s department leaks or reveals over the coming days about why Dijon Kizzee was shot dead in Westmont, we know for a fact that a Black man stopped while riding his bicycle should not be dead today,” Waters said in a statement to the press. “I stand with the community in condemning unaccountable rogue sheriffs and police officers who continue to hunt and murder unarmed people of color in our communities.”
The two deputies who shot Kizzee have not been named publicly by the LASD, but the department says they have been removed from the field pending an investigation.
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