A response from the California Attorney General’s Office was pending Thursday morning to a request from Rep. Maxine Waters to investigate what she calls a “pattern of abuses” by an “out of control” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department following the deadly shooting of a Black bicyclist this week in the Westmont area.
“Whatever details the sheriffs leak or reveal 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, D-Los Angeles, said.
“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,” she said. “It’s past time for the attorney general of CA, Xavier Becerra, to intervene and investigate the pattern of abuses at the L.A. (County) Sheriff’s Department. The department is out of control and has lost the confidence of the community it is supposed to protect. There will be no peace in our streets until the LASD cleans house.”
The AG’s office said it would respond to Waters “once we’ve had a chance to review any request.”
Dijon Kizzee, 29, was fatally shot about 3:15 p.m. Monday during a confrontation with deputies near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue.
Sheriff’s officials said Kizzee was riding a bicycle in the area and deputies stopped him for unspecified “code violations.” After he was stopped, Kizzee allegedly tried to run away, according to the sheriff’s department.
“Our suspect was holding some items of clothing in his hands, punched one of the officer in the face and dropped items in his hands,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black, semiautomatic handgun, at which time a deputy-involved-shooting occurred.”
Why Kizzee was shot even though he was not holding the weapon was not immediately clear, although the sheriff’s department has said that he “made a motion toward the firearm.”
Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said that “as always, we look forward to a fair review of the circumstances regarding this unfortunate incident.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing Kizee’s family, says the victim was shot in the back more than 20 times, although there’s been no confirmation of the number of shots fired.
Kizzee “did not deserve to be executed like this as he was running away,” Crump said. “We want the (District Attorney’s Office) and AG to hold officers accountable. This seems to happen disproportionately to colored people in the U.S. Dijon Kizzee’s life matters.”
Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin in 2012, held a virtual news conference Wednesday with co-counsels Dale Galipo and Carl Douglas and members of Kizzee’s family.
Douglas, who was part of the team that represented O.J. Simpson in the 1994-95 murder trial that ended with the ex-football star’s acquittal, alleged that the Kizzee case shows that a “warrior mentality led these officers to shoot this man more than 15 times in the back. There’s no way they can justify the privilege of using deadly force — to shoot this man in the back.”
Galipo, who has handled hundreds of officer-involved shooting cases in Los Angeles, said “the law says you can shoot someone only when there is a threat of death. You’re supposed to show a reverence for human life (as an officer). Shooting is supposed to be a last resort.”
The deputies who shot Kizzee were removed from the field pending a review, as is standard procedure, the sheriff’s department announced Tuesday night.
Sheriff’s deputies have not yet begun wearing body cameras. So Crump urged anyone with video footage of the confrontation to come forward. Some doorbell footage capturing the shots being fired was released Tuesday.
The shooting prompted protest demonstrations Monday night and Tuesday night, and activists demanded that the deputies involved in the shooting be arrested and prosecuted.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, speaking at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday morning, did not discuss details of the shooting but offered his condolences to Kizzee’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.”