Activists, families call for L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s resignation

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Community activists and families of people killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies gathered in South L.A. Sunday to call for Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s resignation.

The event involved the loved ones of Andres Guardado, Anthony Weber, Ryan Twyman and Dijon Kizzee — all of whom died in incidents involving the Sheriff’s Department over the past two years.

“This week, we will form an exploratory committee to possibly launch a recall against Sheriff Alex Villanueva,” said Najee Ali, a community activist attending the demonstration. ” We’ve also called for his resignation.”

The most recent incident, on Aug. 31, left 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee dead. Sheriff’s officials previously said Kizzee “made a motion” toward a gun that dropped from his jacket onto the floor. On Thursday, the department released another statement that said something else — Kizzee allegedly picked up a pistol before deputies shot at him 12 times over a bicycle violation.

“Our families are hurting. We’re tired,” Kizzee’s aunt, Sequarier McCoy, said Sunday. “Villanueva, there’s no answer, there’s no excuse even though there’s many excuses going on, being said in each and every last one of the cases.”

“Once he’s out of office, the hope is there’ll be another level of accountability,” McCoy said of Villanueva potentially resigning. “We don’t trust the people that are over us to serve and protect. We would like we would like democracy. We want it to come back to us.”

Some members of a civilian oversight committee tasked with monitoring the department as well as a number of city and county officials have all called for the sheriff’s resignation.

“It’s with great reluctance that I’m calling for Sheriff Villanueva to resign,” said Robert Bonner, a commissioner with the committee who’s a former federal prosecutor and head of the DEA.”The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department itself deserves better. The men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deserve better.”

Villanueva has brushed off the criticism and has said he has no plans to resign, describing the pushback from county supervisors in particular as a “proxy war.” The department was shaken by a shooting targeting two deputies earlier this month and has faced criticism for the treatment and arrest of a news reporter covering protests following the shooting.

While sheriff’s officials claimed she did not identify herself as a journalist, footage of her encounter with deputies shows Josie Huang saying she’s a reporter with KPCC.

“I am very disappointed in recent comments, but I have no time to engage in an exchange of personal attacks,” Villanueva said in a tweet Friday. “We are facing unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts and I will continue to remain focused on public safety as my number one priority.”

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