LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Attorneys for the family of Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black man fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies last August, have filed a $35 million damages claim against the county.
“We intend to bring a bright light on the virus that is raging in South Los Angeles, and the vaccine for that virus is truth,” Carl Douglas, an attorney for the family, said.
The claim was seeking $25 million for “severe and substantial” damaged incurred by Kizzee’s father, Edwin, and $10 million for economic and injury costs to his estate “stemming from the intentional and/or negligent infliction of harm on Mr. Kizzee until the moment that he took his last breath.”
Kizzee was shot Aug. 31 by two sheriff’s deputies in the unincorporated community of Westmont, near South Los Angeles, after initially being stopped for allegedly biking on the wrong side of East 110th Street.
Following the fatal shooting, the sheriff’s department claimed Kizzee was carrying a loaded handgun when he was stopped by the deputies. And though they said he dropped the firearm during the initial confrontation and physical altercation, Kizzee allegedly picked it up from the ground and pointed it toward the deputies, prompting the shooting, according to the department.
According to LASD, a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun was recovered at the scene. Investigators said the gun was reported stolen during a 2017 Las Vegas burglary and footage recovered from Kizzee’s phone showed him with the same firearm days before he was killed by deputies.
On Thursday, Douglas said that an independent autopsy determined Kizzee was shot 15 times and that he did not die instantly, but was “writhing on the ground in pain when officers opened up on him.”
“Witnesses said that he was trying to run away from the officers,” he said. “Witnesses said that he never threatened any officer with anything.
“And then, once that gun dropped to the ground, witnesses say that the training officer fired four times, striking Mr. Kizzee in his chest,” he continued. “And after Mr. Kizzee fell to the ground, witnesses say the other officer joined and they both opened up and struck Mr. Kizzee’s body more than 16 different times.”
An official coroner’s report found Kizzee was shot 16 times, but did not say whether he was on the ground when he was shot.
The shooting prompted a series of protests outside the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station, some of which resulted in the arrest of protesters.
The claim, a legally required precursor to a lawsuit, alleges the county failed to properly train the deputies involved and that Kizzee “did nothing to justify this use of serious and unreasonable force against him,” among other allegations.
In response to the claim, LASD released a statement that said, in part:
“This case continues to be investigated by Homicide Bureau, and upon completion will be submitted to the LA County District Attorney’s Office — Justice System Integrity Division for review. On Sept. 17, 2020, LASD provided a detailed account of the facts Homicide investigators knew at the time. … We are unable to provide further details at this time due to pending litigation.”
If the county rejects the claim or fails to respond within 45 days, a lawsuit can be filed.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)