Los Angeles authorities on Thursday revealed Dijon Kizzee was shot at by deputies at least 19 times after being stopped for a bicycle code violation late last month.
Kizzee was fatally shot on Aug. 31 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies after they attempted to stop him while he was riding a bicycle in violation of vehicle codes. During a Thursday press conference, Captain of Sheriff's Homicide Bureau Kent Wegener went over the events that led up to Kizzee’s shooting, stressing that the deputy did not reach for his firearm until Kizzee tried to pick up a loaded gun that fell on the ground.
“We know that the pistol is a stolen gun from Las Vegas, Nevada,” Wegener said. “The man was armed. He wanted to get away from deputies. He armed himself with a handgun and this was what resulted.”
Authorities also said Kizzee was barred from possessing a weapon due to a felony record and restraining order.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday that one of the deputies who shot Kizzee was a “training officer.” He said he did not think the training officer had been involved in prior shootings but could not confirm.
Immediately after the shooting in South Los Angeles, hundreds of protesters took to the street in outrage, spray-painted messages against police brutality and protested outside the police precinct.
The 29-year-old’s family have demanded accountability for the incident and have called on the sheriff’s department to release the names of the deputies involved. Some family members even protested alongside residents earlier this month.
After the sheriff’s news conference Thursday, a rep for Kizzee's family held a separate presser to offer their response to police.
“He is blaming a Black man for his own murder by the sheriff’s department. And they find it incredible that they can blame the victim for his own murder. Dijon was riding his bicycle and minding his own business and got stopped for a traffic code violation,” said activist Najee Ali.
“Dijon Kizzee did not deserve to be executed like this in cold blood as he was running away,” civil attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Kizzee’s family, said earlier this month.”He was riding a bicycle while Black.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the incident began around 3:15 p.m. on Aug. 31 when two deputies tried to stop Kizzee—and he dropped his bike and ran. Wegener said Thursday Kizzee was stopped for “driving on the wrong side of the road.”
Authorities said after catching up with Kizzee, a fight ensued and the 29-year-old “punched one of the officers in the face.”
“After he punched the deputy, he dropped a jacket at which time a black semi-automatic handgun fell to the ground. The suspect made a motion toward the firearm, it was at that time a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
A doorbell video released by ABC 7 that reportedly came from residents who witnessed the shooting appears to capture at least 15 gunshots. It was not immediately clear what vehicle code Kizzee had violated while riding his bike.
Another video of the incident shows a man running from deputies with what appeared to be a ball of clothing in his hands. The video then jumps to two deputies on the sidewalk with their guns drawn, while a man is on the ground. A video of the incident shared by Crump shows the 29-year-old running away from the two deputies before they unleash the sea of gunfire, kicking up dirt as they shoot Kizzee in the back.
In a different portion of a witness video, posted by Fox 11, the man can be seen on the ground behind a pickup truck as angry bystanders yell at deputies. At one point, other deputies arrive at the scene and at least one appears to be leaning over the man and putting handcuffs on him.
“How you gonna handcuff a dead man?” somebody is heard yelling on the video, though it is not immediately clear if the man is deceased.
Authorities said the man was pronounced dead at the scene and a handgun was recovered. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's officer told The Daily Beast on Thursday that Kizzee died from gunshot wounds, but said the preliminary reports have been placed on a security hold by authorities.
Wegener, however, said Thursday the autopsy has determined that Kizzee was shot in the chest, both arms, and the back. The 29-year-old also suffered a grazing gunshot wound to the head.
The Sheriff’s Department confirmed to The Daily Beast that multiple independent investigations were underway in accordance with the protocol for deputy-involved shootings and that the 29-year-old was the cousin of a department employee. The District Attorney's Office and Office of the Inspector General are also assisting in the investigation.
Unlike the Los Angeles Police Department, sheriff’s deputies are not required to wear body-worn cameras. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 1 approved the $25 million funding for body cameras, but only at five sheriff’s stations. The five stations don’t include the station involved in Kizzee’s death.