LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Sheriff Villanueva Friday responded to allegations that the department intentionally held the autopsy of Dijon Kizzee without Inspector General Max Huntsman present saying that he was trying to “distort reality.”
Huntsman said Thursday that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department performed the autopsy of Kizzee — a Black man fatally shot by deputies Monday in South Los Angeles — in his absence despite his request to be included.
Huntsman said he became concerned when he didn’t hear back from the department and contacted the coroner who informed him that the autopsy “would be over in an hour.”
Villanueva, in a statement released Friday, denied the allegations and said Huntsman was making excuses “for his own administrative incompetence in failing to make provisions for his attendance at the autopsy of Mr. Dijon Kizzee.”
The sheriff also said that the inspector general’s comments were part of a “long history of selectively omitting facts which are favorable to his position.”
According to the sheriff, permission to be present at an autopsy is granted by the Los Angeles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner and not the investigative agency.
“The LASD does not ‘include’ or ‘exclude’ anyone from the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s autopsy,” he said. “It is not under our authority or control to do so.”
Villanueva also noted that Huntsman was present for the autopsy of Andres Guardardo, an 18-year-old shot and killed by a deputy, and arranged his attendance through the coroner’s office.
“Mr. Huntsman’s most recent statements are simply the latest installment in his pattern of unsubstantiated and inflammatory remarks designed to bring discredit to, and unfairly harm, the department,” Villanueva said. “Mr. Huntsman needs to accept responsibility for his lack of preparation and apologize for trying to blame others for his blunders.”
As of Friday afternoon, Huntsman had not issued a public response to the sheriff’s statement.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)