Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials now allege Dijon Kizzee picked up a pistol before deputies chasing him over a bicycle violation fired 19 shots, killing him.
The Sheriff’s Department gave an update Thursday on its investigation into the Aug. 31 shooting, the first update on how it unfolded since homicide investigators interviewed the deputies involved in the case.
Previously, officials had said the 29-year-old Black man “made a motion” toward a gun that dropped from a jacket as he fell to the ground.
The deadly shooting has sparked a wave of protests, largely outside the sheriff’s station in South L.A., at which demonstrators say they’ve been met with harsh tactics from deputies. The tension boiled over last weekend when two deputies were wounded in an ambush shooting in Compton, and the Sheriff’s Department later arrested a journalist reporting on a small protest outside the hospital where they were being treated.
Kizzee was killed in Westmont, after deputies tried to stop him for allegedly riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road in the area of 110th Street and Budlong Avenue. When Kizzee fell off his bike and went into the neighborhood, the deputies pursued him, sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said in Thursday’s briefing.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the two deputies involved were a trainee and his training officer who were on patrol in the area.
The captain said bystanders in the area helped the deputies locate Kizzee on 109th Place, west of Budlong Avenue. Wegener said the deputies attempted to detain Kizzee, but he was unsure whether they intended to cite or warn him over the violation.
“He briefly raised his hands with a green towel in one hand and a red and black jacket and the other as he moved away from the deputy,” Wegener said.
Wegener alleges that Kizzee then began struggling with the deputies, punching one of them in the face. Video of the incident does show a tussle, but it’s unclear whether Kizzee struck a deputy in the face from the footage.
“During the struggle, Kizzee’s pistol fell to the ground between him and the deputy,” he said. “At this moment the deputies saw the gun and drew their pistols as Kizzy stopped, bent over, reached back, and picked up the pistol.”
That part is also unclear in the video.
Wegener said Kizzee had a loaded 9mm, semi-automatic pistol wrapped in a piece of clothing he was carrying.
Both deputies fired their weapons, together unloading 19 rounds. Wegener said several hit Kizzee “in the chest area,” but it’s unknown how many times he was struck because the autopsy report has yet to be completed.
The preliminary results have been placed on a security hold by the department, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office.
Kizzee died at the scene.
“The man was armed. He wanted to get away from deputies. He armed himself with a handgun, and this resulted,” Wegener said.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Kizzee’s family, has said Kizzee was shot while running away from deputies.
“Dijon Kizzee did not deserve to be executed like this in cold blood as he was running away,” Crump said earlier this month. “He was riding a bicycle while Black.”
The video the Sheriff’s Department shared in the case Thursday appears to be the same as the grainy footage that emerged two days after the shooting.
The Sheriff’s Department does not currently have body cameras for deputies, but the county Board of Supervisors earlier this month approved funding, and the first group of deputies will be equipped with cameras next month.
Investigators displayed other video, which they say was found on Kizzee’s cellphone, that they said shows him with the same 9mm pistol that was recovered at the scene. The video was taken two days before his death, and the gun’s serial number showed it was reported stolen during a home burglary in Vegas, according to Wegener.
The captain said Kizzee has a criminal case pending out of the Antelope Valley involving allegations of “an assault on deputies and bringing narcotics into the jail.” He also alleges Kizzee is a convicted felon with a record including firearms and narcotics violations, and that he was prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm as a condition of a restraining order.
Villanueva painted the Westmont community as a dangerous one, saying that put his deputies on high alert even though they were handling a minor traffic violation.
“Some people are trying to say that we’re singling out people for some type of harassment,” he said. “No, we’re just trying to keep people alive and safe. That’s all it is.”
Correction: A previous headline on this story stated that Kizzee was shot 19 times. It remains unclear how many times he was struck. This post has been updated.