Video shows sheriff’s deputies killing Dijon Kizzee. But questions remain
Warning: Video obtained by The Times shows the controversial shooting of bicyclist Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
A video obtained by The Times of the controversial shooting of cyclist Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies sheds more light on what happened in the fatal encounter Monday. But questions remain.
The killing has sparked two days of protests in the Westmont community and beyond, and has become another flashpoint in the national controversy about police use of force on Black people.
Neighbors, family members and activists say that the shooting was unjustified and that the situation could have been handled without deadly force.
They noted Kizzee, 29, was trying to get away from deputies and didn’t point any weapon at them. Some witnesses have said they were horrified by the violence and believed Kizzee didn’t pose a threat.
Here is what we know:
The Sheriff account
The encounter Monday afternoon began when two sheriff’s deputies from the South Los Angeles station spotted a man, later identified by the coroner as Kizzee, riding a bicycle in violation of vehicle codes, according to Lt. Brandon Dean. Dean said he didn’t know which codes Kizzee was allegedly violating.
Deputies attempted to contact Kizzee, but he dropped the bicycle and ran north on Budlong Avenue for a block, with deputies in pursuit, Dean said. Deputies again tried to make contact in the 1200 block of West 109th Place, and Dean said Kizzee punched one of them in the face.
Kizzee then dropped a jacket he had been carrying, and a black handgun fell to the ground, officials said. The Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday evening that Kizzee “made a motion toward” the gun, and the deputies opened fire, killing him.
Dean said he did not know how many times Kizzee was shot. Sheriff’s officials said a handgun was recovered at the scene.
The fatal shooting by deputies of Dijon Kizzee spurs new outrage in Westmont neighborhood.
A grainy but graphic video of the encounter obtained by The Times shows a physical altercation between Kizzee and the deputies before Kizzee tries to get away and falls to the ground.
At that point, two deputies open fire multiple times.
A wall and fencing obscure the full scene, including where Kizzee’s jacket falls.
A separate video reviewed by The Times showed Kizzee walking away from deputies moments earlier. That same video then cuts to deputies with guns drawn over his body.
A front door camera at one residents’ home recorded sounds of 15 gunshots but did not show the actual shooting.
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Alida Trejo, 52, said she heard between eight and 11 shots. She was sitting by her sewing machine when she looked out the window and saw a man being chased by a sheriff’s deputy.
Curious, she walked outside to see what was happening and saw the deputy struggling to arrest the man. Neighbors were yelling at the man not to resist and telling the deputy not to shoot.
“They say the man punched the deputy, but I never saw that happen,” Trejo said.
Then, gunfire erupted. Her 16-year-old daughter, Liz, was in her room taking a college prep course when she heard gunshots and her mother’s screams. She ran outside and saw her mom yelling and crying hysterically, “They killed him. They killed him.”
Latiera Irby, 29, had stopped by her mother’s house Monday to get her hair done when Kizzee came up to her car on the street where he was shot as he was running from deputies.
“He said, ‘They’re coming to get me; they’re coming to get me,’ ” she said. Kizzee offered her money to drive him away. “I didn’t know who he was running from, so I told him no.”
Shortly after, she saw him get into a scuffle with a sheriff’s deputy. At one point, she said, the deputy backed away, then shot Kizzee. She said that deputy and another fired at Kizzee after he had fallen to the ground.
“He had nothing in his hands,” she said.
Tabatha Ingram was inside the house when she was startled by gunshots. She walked outside and saw Kizzee tumble to the ground. Afterward, neighbors began yelling at deputies.
“ ‘You don’t have to shoot him that many times! You could have Tased him,’ ” she recalled them saying.
Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County deputy sheriff and national expert on the use of force, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will likely face questions about why deputies chased after the man over such a minor offense. While deputies have discretion in those circumstances, they “have to weigh the risk benefit of pursuing someone for a violation as minor as this,” he said.
He said it’s unclear what prompted the deputies to open fire.
“He drops this bundle of clothes, they see a gun — and we don’t know what happened after that except for the shooting,” he said. “We’re really short on facts here. ... There’s, right now, obviously a lot of questions about this.”
Some community activists are harsher in their judgment.
“The deputies essentially executed a man riding his bicycle,” Najee Ali, a community activist, said Tuesday while standing with several of Kizzee’s relatives at the scene of the shooting. Balloons were tied to memorial candles on the sidewalk, marking the spot where Kizzee died.
“They’ll say he had a gun, but what they won’t say was that he was not armed with the gun. He did not point the gun,” Ali said. “There was no reason for deputies to shoot a running man.”
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