SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Rep. Maxine Waters on Wednesday called on the state Attorney General’s office to investigate what she called a “pattern of abuses” by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, after deputies fatally shot a 29-year-old Black man on Monday.
“Whatever details the sheriff’s (department) leaks or reveals over the coming days about why Dijon Kizzee was shot dead in Westmont, we know for a fact that a Black man stopped while riding his bicycle should not be dead today,” Waters, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
“I stand with the community in condemning unaccountable rogue sheriffs and police officers who continue to hunt and murder unarmed people of color in our communities,” she said. “It’s past time for the attorney general of CA, Xavier Becerra, to intervene and investigate the pattern of abuses at the L.A. (County) Sheriff’s Department. The department is out of control and has lost the confidence of the community it is supposed to protect. There will be no peace in our streets until the LASD cleans house.”
Dijon Kizzee was shot and killed by LASD deputies after they attempted to stop him for a code violation while he was riding his bicycle near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue at around 3:15 p.m. Monday.
He ran from them, prompting a foot chase. When deputies caught up to him, they allege he punched one of them in the face. During the scuffle, he dropped some clothes he was carrying and they saw a semiautomatic handgun, prompting them to open fire on him, the sheriff’s department reports.
“Our suspect was holding some items of clothing in his hands, punched one of the officer in the face and dropped items in his hands,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black, semiautomatic handgun, at which time a deputy- involved-shooting occurred.”
It’s unclear why deputies fired at Kizzee if he did not aim the gun at them. However, on Tuesday, the sheriff’s department amended its earlier description of the shooting to say that Kizzee “made a motion toward the firearm,” so two deputies opened fire.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump — also representing the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin — has been retained by Kizzee’s family and, on Wednesday, also called for an investigation into the sheriff’s department.
Crump maintains that Kizzee was shot in the back over 20 times, but deputies have not disclosed how many shots were fired. In security footage obtained by CBSLA, at least 18 shots can be heard.
Kizzee “did not deserve to be executed like this as he was running away,” Crump said. “We want the (District Attorney’s Office) and AG to hold officers accountable….Dijon Kizzee’s life matters.”
Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin in 2012, held a virtual press conference Wednesday with co-counsels Dale Galipo and Carl Douglas, as well as members of Kizzee’s family.
Kizzee’s case shows that a “warrior mentality led these officers to shoot this man more than 15 times in the back. There’s no way they can justify the privilege of using deadly force — to shoot this man in the back,” said Douglas, who was part of the team that represented O.J. Simpson in the 1994-95 murder trial.
The sheriff’s department has yet to confirm the code violation for which they stopped Kizzee in the first place, prompting further outrage from activists, as well as the family’s attorneys.
The deputies, whose names have not been released, have been removed from the field pending a review of the incident, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced on Tuesday.
The shooting has prompted days of protests. Demonstrators have been gathering at the scene where Kizzee was killed and marching to the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s station located at 1310 W. Imperial Highway.
This shooting comes after the fatal shooting of a Black man in Pasadena also sparked major protests. On the night of Aug. 15, 32-year-old Anthony McClain was killed by Pasadena police following a traffic stop. Police said that McClain was also armed.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)