LOS ANGELES – The nation’s second-largest city, already on edge after the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake prompted protests and unrest in the streets, is dealing with its own racially divisive shooting by law enforcement.
Sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a Black man after they attempted to stop him over an unspecified “code violation” as he rode his bicycle Monday afternoon through an unincorporated section of south Los Angeles.
Video that shows the death of Dijon Kizzee isn’t as clear as footage taken in Minneapolis, where an officer kept a knee to Floyd’s neck until he became unconscious and died, or Kenosha, Wisconsin, where an officer shot Blake seven times in the back, which left him paralyzed.
The case attracted the attention of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, which organized protests, and of attorney Ben Crump, who has been active in the Floyd and Blake cases.
Wednesday at a news conference, Crump and two other attorneys said they will represent Kizzee’s family in civil claims against the Sheriff’s Department.
“Dijon Kizzee did not deserve to be executed like this in cold blood as he was running away,” Crump said. “That seems to happen disproportionately to Black and brown people in America.”
Kizzee’s only crime, Crump said, was to be a Black person riding a bicycle.
The Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that Kizzee abandoned the bike and fled on foot when he saw a sheriff’s cruiser make a U-turn and head toward him.
At first, Kizzee eluded them. When they encountered him a few blocks away, the department said, Kizzee punched a deputy in the face. A black semiautomatic handgun fell to the ground when Kizzee dropped his jacket. Thinking he was reaching for the gun, deputies fired, according to the statement.
A grainy video, seen in a tweet Crump posted Wednesday, shows a scuffle and a person running away. Deputies were at a distance from Kizzee when they fired.
Crump and his co-counsels, Carl Douglas and Dale Galipo, said they counted 15 to 20 shots, based on audio from neighbors’ videos of the encounter. They said an autopsy will determine not only the number of times Kizzee was shot but from what direction.
They said it was no surprise that Kizzee ran when the deputies tried to confront him. “Look at what has been transpiring with law enforcement for Black people in America,” Crump said. “He was scared.”
After the shooting, Black Lives Matter called on supporters to demonstrate at the scene.
“Los Angeles County Sheriffs killed a Black man … Dijon … on 109th and Budlong and left his body facedown in the dirt. We need all hands on deck. Please get here ASAP!” the group tweeted. A large crowd gathered and stayed late into the night.
The Sheriff’s Department said Kizzee was about 30 years old.
Kizzee’s aunt, Fletcher Fair, said he was “more like a son to me,” especially since her sister’s death in 2011. She said Kizzee moved to Lancaster, on Los Angeles County’s northern edge, and attended continuation high school, but she didn’t elaborate.
“He was a good boy,” she said. “He was never a bad person.”