Tensions mounted Tuesday in South Los Angeles over the fatal shooting by sheriff’s deputies of a 29-year-old Black man who was stopped on his bicycle for “code violations,” with an attorney for the man’s family saying he was shot 20 times in the back.
The shooting, which occurred about 3:15 p.m. Monday near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue, immediately attracted a crowd of residents who gathered at the scene, beginning a protest that moved to the sheriff’s department’s South Los Angeles station and lingered into the early morning hours.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump — most recently noted for representing the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, setting off a renewed round of national protests — was retained by the family of the man who was shot, Dijon Kizzee.
“Dijon Kizzee, a 29yo Black man, was fatally shot by (sheriffs’) deputies,” Crump posted on his Twitter page Tuesday morning. “Cops stopped him while riding his bike for alleged `vehicle code violation.’ They say he ran, dropped clothes and handgun. He didn’t pick it up, but cops shot him in the back 20+ times then left him for hours.”
Crump noted that sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras, so he urged anyone with video footage of the confrontation to come forward.
Meanwhile, community activists demanded that the deputies involved in the shooting be arrested and prosecuted.
Activist Najee Ali said Kizzee was shot while “running away.”
“The police will tell you that he was stopped for a traffic vehicle code. What they won’t tell you — he was on a bicycle minding his own business. Once again this is another case of harassment by sheriff’s deputies of Black and Brown men in their own neighborhood. He was stopped for riding his bicycle. So at the end of the day, here we go again. Here we go again.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said the man who was killed had been riding a bicycle when deputies attempted to stop him for code violations. He left his bicycle and ran away but deputies caught up to him and a fight ensued.
Lt. Brandon Dean told reporters, “Immediately upon making contact with our suspect, our suspect was holding some items of clothing in his hands, punched one of the officers in the face and then dropped the items in his hands.
“The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items he dropped was a black semi-automatic handgun, at which time a deputy-involved shooting occurred. He was in possession of a firearm and did assault a deputy.”
Navarro-Suarez said two deputies opened fire and shot the man several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No deputies were injured.
Video from the scene showed a gun near the man’s body.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, relatives and activists conceded that Kizzee was carrying a weapon, but insisted he wasn’t wielding it, didn’t reach for it on the ground and was unarmed when he was shot.
“Why us?” his aunt, Fletcher Fair, told reporters. “… It’s just us, and we’re tired. We are absolutely tired.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, speaking at a Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday morning, did not discuss details of the shooting, but offered his condolences to the man’s relatives.
“I want to extend my condolences to the family of Dijon Kizzee, who succumbed yesterday to a deputy-involved shooting,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, and that includes a member of my own department who is a cousin of the deceased.”
On Monday night, demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting, then moved to the sheriff’s station at 1310 W. Imperial Highway around midnight. Authorities declared an unlawful assembly shortly after midnight as the crowd chanted derogatory, anti-law enforcement slogans, as a line of deputies stood watch in front of the building.
Protesters vandalized and sprayed graffiti on the sheriff’s sign outside the building before leaving the area around 1 a.m.