Relatives say a private autopsy shows Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies shot Dijon Kizzee 15 times, with bullets striking his back and buttocks while the Black man was “writhing in pain" on the ground.
Kizzee, 29, died Aug. 31 in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Westmont in a heavily disputed confrontation with deputies that sparked multiple nights of protests.
“He did not die instantly. He was writhing on the ground in pain when officers opened up on him,” lawyer Carl Douglas said at a press conference Tuesday. “Witnesses confirmed there was no effort at deescalation.”
The lawyer said Kizzee “was not holding a gun in his hand when (the) 15 shots struck him." He described the the hail of bullets as “contagious fire” and a sign of both “poor training” and a “warrior mentality," as opposed to a “guardian mentality," on the part of the deputies.
“We know from witnesses there was an initial volley of three, maybe four shots and then a gap. And then 15 additional shots,” he said.
Seven of the shots entered Kizzee’s back, Douglas said.
“Whatever was in (Kizzee’s) hands of a darkened color lands in the area where they say the gun was located (and) fell well before the volley of shots opened up on him,” the lawyer said.
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump called the shooting the latest “execution” of a Black person in America, following in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
“This is an epidemic,” Crump said while standing beside Kizzee’s aunts Fletcher Fair and Debra Ray. “This is a reality for Black people in America.”
He said Kizzee’s crime was “riding a bicycle while black" and compared the case to that of Jacob Blake, the Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot multiple times in the back in front of his children as he walked away from an officer Aug. 23.
“Look at that video, you don’t see any gun in his hand,” Crump said, referring to the Kizzee shooting video he previously shared on social media. “You don’t see him pointing it at anybody."
Flair cried as she described her nephew and said the family simply wants “justice.”
“He didn’t have to be killed like that. He’s no animal. He’s human like we are,” she said. “These sheriffs need to be in prison.”
The new findings come after sheriff’s officials released their own preliminary findings in their ongoing investigation last week.
The department said Thursday that deputies witnessed Kizzee riding his bike on the wrong side of the street and attempted to detain him for a traffic violation. They say he refused to stop and fled on his bike.
Kizzee later fell from the bike, abandoned it and ran from deputies on Budlong Ave., they said.
When Kizzee was later spotted farther west on 109 Place, a deputy exited a patrol and tried to detain him, officials said.
Kizzee briefly raised his hands while holding a green towel with one hand and a black and red jacket with the other hand as the deputy approached him, the department said.
He then allegedly lowered his hands and engaged in a physical struggle with the deputy that resulted in a gun falling to the ground, officials said.
Deputies drew their pistols as Kizzee stopped, bent over, reached back and picked up the pistol, the department claimed.
“Deputies fired and struck him several times causing the gun to fall again,” a statement released by the department said.
Nineteen rounds were fired by the deputies who were not wearing body cameras.
Kizzee died at the scene.
Video of the shooting, first released by Crump on Sept. 2, was interpreted by the lawyer a different way.
“This NEW unobstructed video shows LASD fatally shooting Dijon Kizzee in the back as he ran away from police,” Crump said in a Twitter post.
The Sheriff’s Department further said last week that Kizzee was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to his status as a convicted felon.
Officials described the gun as a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol that was reported stolen during a residential burglary in Las Vegas in 2017.
The department said Sheriff Alex Villanueva has “assured a thorough, transparent, and objective investigation, no matter how long it would take.”
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