Attorney Ben Crump – who also represents the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Jacob Blake – held a virtual news conference on the shooting death of Dijon Kizzee, who was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies Monday.
“When I got the call in the middle of the night about this tragedy, it reminded me that even though America is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we in Black America are dealing with the “COVID-1619″ pandemic,” Crump said Wednesday, referring to the year the first enslaved Africans were brought to America.
Attorneys said they plan to file a complaint, a precursor to a lawsuit. An autopsy of Kizzee’s body is scheduled by the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Authorities said Kizzee was stopped in Los Angeles by deputies for riding a bicycle in violation of codes. The department has not said what the infraction was. When the deputies tried contacting him, Kizzee fled on foot, authorities said. During a scuffle, Kizzee dropped some clothes, punched a deputy and police spotted a handgun he had on him, the department said.
Video of the incident appears to show Kizzee running several blocks and deputies firing multiples times as he fled. Lawyers for the family said Kizzee was shot anywhere between 15 to 20 times in the back.
“The sheriff always gives a portrayal of the incident that’s not accurate and it’s exaggerated,” attorney Dale Galipo said. “But even you assume they’re facts… that in no way that justifies firing 15 or 20 shots at someone who at that point is visibly unarmed, moving away, being shot in the back, without proper commands, without a verbal warning.
“That is an execution,” he added.
Crump said the family plans to have a forensic videographer review the footage to determine how many shots were fired. Galipo added that several videos appear to show Kizzee moving away from deputies as they shot at him.
The shooting unleashed a torrent of criticism of the sheriff’s department, which has been involved in several recent high-profile shootings.
“This is very heartbreaking for me and my family,” said Fletcher Fair, Kizzee’s aunt who helped raise him. “All I want is justice for my nephew Dijon. If we could get that, I would be so satisfied.”
Attorney Carl Douglas, who was part of the legal team that defended O.J. Simpson in his 1990s double-murder trial, grew up just blocks from where Kizzee was killed. He questioned the initial bicycle violation stop.
He noted that bicyclists in affluent parts of the country are seldom stopped for minor infractions. He further criticized the sheriff’s department and referenced a group of deputies called the “Executioners” that have wielded power at the Compton, Calif., station for years. They are identified by tattoos featuring Nazi imagery, a laughing skeleton and an AK-47, according to a complaint filed by another deputy.
The complaint accuses the group of celebrating shootings and recruiting prospective members based on their use of violence against criminal suspects.
“LA County has been rife with gangs that wear khaki and green for more than 40 years,” Douglas said. “We have to stamp out those gangs that patrol our neighborhoods with that warrior mentality.”
Attorneys pushed for Los Angeles County Jackie Lacey to prosecute officers who commit misconduct and pushed for the sheriff’s department to adopt body cameras. Deputies were not wearing them at the time of the shooting.