Four nights of protest follow shooting death of Dijon Kizzee
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A fourth consecutive night of protests outside the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station over the killing of Dijon Kizzee Aug. 31 resulted in more arrests Sept. 8.
About three dozen people have been arrested during the protests for failing to disperse after sheriff’s deputies declared an unlawful assembly.
Relatives of Kizzee have retained a civil rights “dream team” of attorneys in an attempt to bring justice to the 29 year old who was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff deputies.
Attorneys Benjamin Crump, Carl Douglas and Dale Galipo have been retained to handle the case.
“Since the death of my sister in 2011 I have assumed the role of taking care of her two sons,” said Fletcher Fair, the aunt of Dijon Kizzee. “Dijon was a good boy.”
“Ms. Fair has watched the tragedy of George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor and never thought this would become her reality,” Crump said at a press conference last week.
According to reports, sheriff’s deputies encountered Kizzee riding a bicycle in the Westmont area of South Los Angeles and after making a u-turn, tried to pull him over for an alleged “vehicle code violation” that still hasn’t been publicly revealed.
The deputies claim Kizzee punched one of them and then tried to run away and while fleeing he dropped a handgun that was in his possession.
Questions arose of why Kizzee was running from deputies.
“With the culture today, Black men are afraid of the police and tend to run out of fear,” Crump said.
Neither the family nor attorneys provided any details on the reports that Kizzee was in possession of a gun.
Attorney Carl Douglas, most notably known for his work on the O.J. Simpson case, said he grew up on 109th Street and Denker Avenue and vividly recalls how deputies out of the Lennox station routinely harassed the community.
“I recall being 10 years old and watching the deputies assemble at Washington High School as they prepared for the Watts Riots,” Douglas said.
According to Douglas the process for bringing forth a wrongful death lawsuit begins with the filing of a claim for damages in the coming weeks.
Douglas said he has zero confidence in L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey bringing charges against the deputies for shooting Kizzee upwards of 20 times in the back, as he was running from the deputies.
“Out of nearly 600 cases, we believe she has filed charges against one officer,” Douglas said.
Deputies were not wearing body cameras to catch the entire confrontation. Ironically, the day after Kizzee was shot to death, the county Board of Supervisors voted to funding body cameras for all sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the Board of Supervisors have had multiple conversations about body cameras since the death of Andres Guardado, who was killed by deputies assigned to the Compton Sheriff’s Station in June.
A body camera pilot program was implemented in 2014, prior to the election of Villanueva. He has blamed his predecessor, Sheriff Jim McDonnell, for delaying full implementation of the body cameras by spending too much time reviewing problems and potential solutions.
“Body-worn cameras are an important tool for transparency and I have been advocating to get them to our sheriff’s deputies since Sheriff Jim McDonnell was in office,” county Supervisor Janice Hahn said Sept. 1. “The videos these cameras capture will give us a clearer understanding of what actually happens in the interactions between our deputies and members of the public.”
After the Kizzee shooting of Kizzee, the board moved to release $35 million to fund the project.
Hahn and Supervisor Kathryn Barger coauthored a motion calling for a transfer of funds sufficient to cover the first year of operations and without any “extra red tape.”
Video footage taken before and after the shooting reveal some of what happened. Kizzee was filmed running with a bundle of clothing in his hands then was filmed lying face down in between a parked car and the curb.
“Whether he was in possession of a weapon or not he should not have been executed,” attorney Dale Galipo. “This should be the fight of all people, not just people of color.”
The Sheriff’s Department has been under fire for tolerating internal rogue gangs of deputies at various stations who earn tattoos by beating or shooting suspects.
Villanueva responded by implementing a zero-tolerance policy of internal gangs and the subsequent discipline of more than two dozen deputies for their involvement.
The two deputies involved in the Kizzee shooting have been placed on desk duty.
The protests outside the South L.A. Sheriff’s Station began Sept. 5, when members of Black Lives Matter and others protest arrived at the station at 1310 W. Imperial Highway at 4 p.m. The group quickly grew to about 200-300 people.
It was unclear what caused the sheriff’s deputies to fire at least three nonlethal warning shots at 8:30 p.m., since no one appeared to have breeched the line, witnesses said.
A loudspeaker announcement indicated deputies were concerned about a protester with an umbrella, but video showed he was complying at the time the rounds were fired.
The protester, who gave his name only as A.J., admitted he extended the umbrella slightly over the police tape, but said he only did so because he was trying to make sure another person was protected from nonlethal bullets that had already been fired.
“They hit my foot,” he said. “That was the very first shot.”
A hail of irritant fire erupted a few minutes later, and by 8:40 p.m. six loud bangs had been heard. Afterward, at least one protester was seen throwing a water bottle at deputies.
At 8:43 p.m. deputies declared the crowd an unlawful assembly and gave protesters 10 minutes to clear out.
“I do appreciate everyone that’s out here,” Kizzee’s cousin, Shaneika Hall, 32, told the crowd. “I know that he would want me to be strong. And this time, this moment — right now — he is standing up there applauding everyone.”
Hall, dressed in a “Child of God” T-shirt, spoke through her “Justice for Dijon Kizzee” face mask, saying she appreciates the support the family has received in recent days.
“This is very, very hard,” she said. “I just lost my brother two months ago, and I have to stand right here today, because somebody wanted to take his life, because they’re not happy with their life.”
As she spoke she clutched a poster with her cousin’s face and a call for the removal of Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“I am angry,” she said, bursting into tears. “We’re angry. His family is angry.”
Another of Kizzee’s cousins, 29-year-old Summer Jones, said he wants to see law enforcement shift from a “policing” mentality to a “public safety” approach.
“The police was wrong,” he said. “They will not get away with this at all.”
City News service contributed to this story.