As an investigation continued into the fatal shooting of a Black man by sheriff’s deputies in the Westmont area of South Los Angeles, and doorbell video captured the sound of 15 shots, family members and activists tied the killing to police violence that has roiled the country this summer.
He was identified by family and the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter as Dijon Kizzee, 29. The county coroner’s office later released his name.
At a morning news conference, Kizzee’s aunt said he was “sweet,” and troubled by the death of his mother in 2011. He had a tattoo of her on his back and posted about her regularly on Facebook, Kizzee’s aunt Fletcher Fair said.
The killing had left her sad, mad and tired, but ready to “fight to the end,” she said.
“Why us? … We are tired. We are absolutely tired,” Fair said. “If you don’t like us, stay out of our neighborhoods. Don’t come here. We didn’t ask for you.”
Kizzee was riding his bike near 110th Street and Budlong Avenue around 3 p.m. Monday when deputies tried to stop him for what they described as a vehicle code violation. The nature of the violation remained unclear Tuesday.
Kizzee got off his bike and ran from the deputies, who pursued him on foot. Video captured by a bystander appeared to show Kizzee carrying some clothing in his arms as he ran northbound on Budlong Avenue towards 109th Place.
The deputies eventually caught up with Kizzee and attempted to make contact with him near the 1200 block of West 109th Place.
“Our suspect was holding some items of clothing in his hands, punched one of the officers in the face and then dropped the items in his hands,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Brandon Dean said Monday. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black semi-automatic handgun.”
“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 Tuesday statement.
Two deputies opened fire, striking the man several times, Dean said. Kizzee died at the scene.
Ring doorbell video from a nearby home captured the sound of 15 gunshots in about 10 seconds.
Activist Najee Ali said Kizzee was shot in the back — or the head — as he was running away.
“They essentially executed a man riding his bicycle,” Ali said. “They’ll say he had a gun, but what they won’t say: He was not armed with the gun. He did not point the gun.”
The bystander’s video did not show the confrontation. It did show two deputies pointing their weapons at the man, who is on the ground, lying face down and motionless, partially underneath the back of a parked pickup truck.
“We still have to conduct our interviews of the investigating officers to see exactly what happened and transpired during the deputy-involved-shooting,” Dean said in response to questions on what prompted the use of force. “But if this individual was reaching for a semi-automatic handgun, I would suggest that, you know, that’s probably why deadly force was important.”
A handgun was recovered at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The two deputies have been removed from the field while the shooting is investigated, officials said Tuesday.
The shooting sparked protests at the crime scene and outside the Sheriff’s Department’s South Los Angeles station Monday night. Chants of “Black lives matter” could be heard as demonstrators marched through the streets.
The two deputies involved in the shooting have not been identified. Ali and other activists called for the names to be released — and for them to be prosecuted.
Ali said high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family of George Floyd in his death at the hands of Minneapolis police, was working on the case. Crump tweeted Tuesday morning about Kizzee’s killing.
The department said that it’s speaking to and searching for witnesses. Investigators are also canvassing the area for any surveillance cameras that may have captured the incident, according to the Sheriff’s Department.