The father of a 29-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in 2020 filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, alleging that the case raises issues of excessive force and the existence of deputy gangs.
Edwin Kizzee, the father of the late Dijon Kizzee, as well as the estate of Dijon Kizzee brought the suit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging civil rights violations, assault and battery, false imprisonment and negligence. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
National civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is a member of the legal team representing Edwin Kizzee.
“This lawsuit concerns the outrageous, careless and unlawful use of deadly force by (deputies) as well as their malicious effort to distort the true facts of their own misconduct,” the suit states.
The case also “raises questions concerning the improper influence of rogue deputy gangs within the sheriff’s department, which the plaintiffs believe created the environment that directly led to Mr. Kizzee’s death,” the suit states.
The sheriff’s department issued a statement saying, “Any loss of life is tragic and our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Kizzee. We are unable to comment on pending litigation.”
The sheriff’s department further said a video of the incident and other documentation can be found on its transparency page — at LASD.org under Deputy Involved Shootings 2020 — and that the case was submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review.
According to the suit, the county failed to properly train the deputies involved and that Kizzee did nothing to justify the level of force used against him. Dijon Kizzee was shot about 3:15 p.m. Aug. 31, 2020, by two sheriff’s deputies in the unincorporated community of Westmont, near South Los Angeles, where they initially stopped him for biking on the wrong side of East 110th Street.
Deputies said Kizzee refused to stop and, abandoning his bike, fled while carrying a gun wrapped inside a piece of clothing. He was confronted by the deputies shortly after on 109th Place, where one tried to detain him, the sheriff’s department has said.
The department contends that Kizzee had dropped a gun during the confrontation with deputies, then picked it up during the physical confrontation and raised it toward them, prompting them to open fire at him 19 times.
Kizzee’s attorneys maintain that Kizzee was “minding his own business” while riding his bike and that he was stopped for no reason.
The lawyers further allege Kizzee was shot with his hands in the air, then was shot repeatedly while he was on the ground. Carl Douglas, another attorney for the plaintiffs, previously said an independent autopsy determined Kizzee was shot 15 times and that he did not die instantly, but was “writhing on the ground in pain when officers opened up on him.”
Kizzee was “at worse, merely a Black man riding his bicycle in a manner that may be contrary to traffic safety regulations, but which is rarely, if ever, enforced by sheriff’s deputies patrolling that neighborhood, especially if the rider is not a Black male,” the suit states.
The deputies had less-lethal alternatives to use on Kizzee and the plaintiffs believe he was not given a verbal warning before he was shot, the suit states.
The suit further alleges the deputies unreasonably delayed getting Kizzee medical assistance.
The plaintiffs believe that each of the deputies are “hopeful members of gang-like cliques which have infected the patrol station where each of these defendants work. These deputy cliques have gang-like rituals, matching tattoos and initiation rites including the unreasonable use of deadly force on unsuspecting citizens with whom they interact.”
County officials knew or should have known that several sheriff’s department stations are “infected with this gang-like culture, but (have) done nothing to rid the department of this scourge,” the suit states.