Sheriff’s deputies fired flash-bang grenades and chemical irritants at some demonstrators who gathered in front of the South Los Angeles sheriff’s station Saturday to protest this week’s controversial fatal shooting of Dijon Kizzee by deputies in the Westmont area, according to reports from the scene.
The protest began late Saturday afternoon at 1310 W. Imperial Highway. The crowd numbered a few hundred in the shortly thereafter but whittled down to 100-200 by about 8:40 p.m. when deputies declared the crowd an unlawful assembly and used the flash-bang grenades and chemical irritants to clear the crowd, according to a City News Service reporter at the scene.
Information about whether any protesters were arrested was not immediately available, according to Deputy Maria Lucero of the Sheriff’s Informaton Bureau.
A post on Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ Twitter account called on protesters to “Bring your bikes, roller skates, skateboards and energy.” It also asked demonstrators to wear masks. Most were seen wearing face masks in a follow-up video.
Kizzee was fatally shot at 3:15 p.m. Monday during a confrontation with deputies near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue.
Sheriff’s officials said he was riding a bicycle in the area and deputies stopped him for an unspecified vehicle code violation. After he was stopped, he allegedly tried to run away.
“Our suspect was holding some items of clothing in his hands, punched one of the officers in the face and dropped items in his hands,” Lt. Brandon Dean said.
“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 despite having been unarmed was not made clear, although the sheriff’s department alleged he “made a motion toward the firearm.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing Kizzee’s family, says the victim was shot in the back more than 20 times, although there has been no confirmation of the number of shots fired.
The Los Angeles Times cited sources saying the deputies involved were a trainee and his supervising officer. They were removed from the field pending a review, as is standard procedure, the sheriff’s department announced Tuesday night.
Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing the department’s deputies, said that “As always, we look forward to a fair review of the circumstances regarding this unfortunate incident.”
Sheriff’s deputies recently purchased body-worn cameras but were expected to train in their proper use before wearing them. So, Crump urged anyone with video footage of the confrontation to come forward. Some doorbell security footage capturing the shots being fired was released Tuesday.
The shooting prompted protest demonstrations that night and the following 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, did not discuss details of the shooting but offered his condolences to Kizzee’s relatives.
To complicate matters further, a dispute has begun — taking place on social media — between Villanueva and Inspector General Max Huntsman, who accused the sheriff’s department of intentionally conducting Kizzee’s autopsy outside of his presence.
On Thursday, Huntsman said the department had the autopsy performed in his absence despite his asking, “specifically, that they include us,” adding, “I was concerned when we didn’t hear back from them.” He said he contacted the coroner personally and was informed the autopsy “would be over in an hour.”
Villanueva fired back the next day, blaming the inspector general for “administrative incompetence,” saying he was trying to “distort reality.” He said Huntman’s comments were part of a “long history of selectively omitting facts which are favorable to his position.”
He continued, “Permission to be present at an autopsy is granted, and notice is made, by DME (The Los Angeles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner), not the investigative agency,” he said. “The LASD does not ‘include’ or `exclude’ anyone from the Medical-Examiner-Coroner’s autopsy. It is not under our authority or control to do so.”
Villanueva noted that Huntsman was present for the autopsy of Andres Guardado, who was also killed by a deputy, and that the inspector general “arranged for his own notification for attendance through DME, as is appropriate and expected.”
“Mr. Huntsman needs to accept responsibility for his lack of preparation and apologize for trying to blame others for his blunders,” he said.
Meanwhile, the results of that autopsy have not been made public.