Attorneys for the family of Dijon Kizzee, who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies last summer in a case that spurred large protests, have filed a legal claim against the county alleging it failed to properly train the deputies on the use of force.
"Mr. Kizzee did nothing to justify this use of serious and unreasonable force against him," the attorneys wrote in the claim. "He was not suspected of having committed violence against any person. The deputies far outnumbered him, and were better trained and equipped to detain and handcuff him without shooting him 16 times."
The claim — filed on behalf of Kizzee's father, Edwin, and his aunt Fletcher Fair — is a precursor to a lawsuit and seeks $35 million in damages. It alleges that deputies decided to stop and detain Kizzee, a Black man, because of his race, "as opposed to any legitimate law enforcement reason."
The Sheriff's Department declined to comment on the claim, citing pending litigation, and referred The Times to a recording of a news briefing last year about the homicide investigation, which is ongoing. The Times previously reported that the deputies involved in the shooting, who were not identified in the document, were a trainee and his supervisor.
At the news briefing last year after the shooting, sheriff’s officials said Kizzee, 29, was riding his bike on the wrong side of the street when he was stopped by two South L.A. deputies. Capt. Kent Wegener at the time said Kizzee made a U-turn in front of deputies, dropped his bike on the sidewalk and ran.
When one of the deputies caught up to Kizzee, Wegener said, Kizzee struck thedeputy in the face and a pistol dropped to the ground from clothes he was carrying. Officials said the weapon recovered from the scene was reported stolen in Las Vegas in 2017.
“He bends over, reaches, picks up the gun and is shot as he stands with the gun in hand,” Wegener said at the time. “You will see that the deputy struggling with Kizzee does not arm himself until Kizzee bends down to pick up the gun he dropped.”
Much of the altercation is caught on video. But parts of the struggle with deputies right before the shooting, including the moment that Wegener said Kizzee picked up the gun, are partially obstructed by a wall and difficult to make out.
The deputies fired 19 shots. Kizzee was struck 16 times, according to a coroner's autopsy.
Kizzee’s family and activists have said the shooting wasn’t warranted and disputed the agency's account.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.