Fatal shooting of Black man by L.A. County sheriff’s deputies sparks protests and questions
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Monday shot and killed a Black man, drawing protesters to the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Westmont where he died.
The shooting victim was Dijon Kizzee, 29, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. Coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said an examination was scheduled for Tuesday.
According to authorities, Kizzee struck a deputy in the face in the incident Monday afternoon, dropping a handgun in the process and prompting the deputy and his partner to open fire.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said Monday evening that two deputies from the South Los Angeles station were driving on Budlong Avenue at 3:15 p.m. when they spotted a man riding his bicycle in violation of vehicle codes. Dean said he didn’t know which vehicle codes the man allegedly broke.
When the deputies attempted to contact the man, he dropped the bicycle and ran north on Budlong for one block with deputies in pursuit, Dean said. In the 1200 block of West 109th Place, deputies again tried to make contact with the man, and he punched one of them in the face, Dean said.
In doing so, the man dropped a bundle of clothing he had been carrying. The deputies spotted a black handgun in the bundle, Dean said, and both opened fire, killing the man. No deputies were injured.
Dean said he did not know how many times the man was shot but that reports that he had been hit more than 20 times were inaccurate.
Gerardo De La Torre, 18, was playing video games in his bedroom on West 109th Place when he heard 10 gunshots, followed by screams. He went outside and saw a group of people confronting sheriff’s deputies. Within five minutes, he said, 12 squad cars had pulled up to the intersection, sirens blaring, where a man lay dead.
De La Torre was reminded of a shooting just three months earlier: A Latino man had come down his street, a gun in his hand, and was standing in front of his family’s home when sheriff’s deputies shot him, he said. The Sheriff’s Department said at the time that the man had pointed the handgun at officers.
There are still two bullet holes in the wooden fence outside his home.
“I don’t really like what’s been going on here,” he said. He added that he planned to move in two weeks to join his brother in San Francisco.
When Arlander Givens, 68, saw the cruisers streaming by his home on West 109th Place, he knew by the number of cars that someone had been shot by law enforcement.
Givens has watched with alarm as Black men have died at the hands of the police in Minnesota, Wisconsin — and, now, on his block.
“It’s like it’s open season,” he said.
Givens questioned why the deputies opened fire if, as a sheriff’s official has said, the man wasn’t holding a weapon.
“If he reached down to grab it, that’s different,” Givens said. “But if it’s on the ground, why shoot? That means he was unarmed.”
When his wife goes to the store, Givens tells her to be careful.
“We aren’t talking about some gang member,” he said. “We’re talking about the police. And that’s bad. I’ve got nothing to hide, I’ve got no reason to run, but when I see the police over my shoulder, I worry.”
In the hours after the shooting, a crowd of protesters — some from the neighborhood, others drawn by an “all hands on deck” tweet issued by the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter — faced off with deputies maintaining a perimeter at the scene.
As afternoon turned to night, the standoff grew tense. Many in the crowd angrily demanded to know why the man’s body remained in the street for hours. Dean, the sheriff’s lieutenant, told reporters the body hadn’t been removed because coroner’s investigators were still at the scene.
Investigators have yet to interview the deputies and many other witnesses, Dean said on Monday. They have not reviewed surveillance video or cellphone videos that may have captured the shooting.
“Give us time to conduct our investigation,” he said. “We will get all of the facts of this case and eventually present them.”
Neither deputy was wearing a body camera, according to Dean. Unlike the Los Angeles Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department has yet to equip its officers with body cameras. The department’s leadership said earlier this summer that it planned to begin distributing the cameras to deputies first at the Century Station in Lynwood, with other stations and bureaus receiving the technology over the next two years.
Deputies assigned to Century Station will be equipped with the cameras by October, the department said.
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