Another Black man has been killed under questionable circumstances, this time in Los Angeles.
29-year-old Dijon Kizzee was bicycling in south Los Angeles when sheriff’s deputies patrolling the area decided to confront him over an undisclosed “vehicle code violation,” according to Lt. Brandon Dean of the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
Upon being pulled over, according to the Lieutenant’s account, Kizzee dropped his bike and ran off.
The deputies were soon in hot pursuit and caught up with Kizzee who is then alleged to have begun struggling with the officers and managed to land a punch in the face of one of the law enforcement agents.
Lt. Dean goes on to explain that Kizzee had been carrying a bundle of clothing in his hands when the deputies reached him which he proceeded to drop on the ground as the struggle began.
Here is where the questionable part of the encounter begins.
According to Lt. Dean:
“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,” Dean said. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items he dropped was a black semiautomatic handgun. At which time a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
What masterful use of the passive voice!
“A shooting occurred.”
As if the trigger pulled itself.
In the end, Dijon Kizzee was shot “several” times and died at the scene.
Although only an eyewitness could be able to ascertain the true chronology of the events, the account seems to indicate that Kizzee may have had a gun on his person at one time, but was actually unarmed at the time he was shot.
Investigators cited in local media reports of the killing say that they will have to conduct interviews with the deputies to clarify the incident and that it was not immediately clear whether Kizzee had been reaching for the gun when he was shot.
Given the spate of police killings of unarmed Black men in recent years, unless there is body camera footage of an incident, the only witnesses to verify the accounts of the events that took place were the deputies themselves and their now-deceased victim.
The law enforcement officers are highly unlikely to implicate themselves as having reacted hastily in cases like these, and, since Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are not currently equipped with body cameras, there is no evidence to dispute their accounts of the killing and the true measure of risk that they faced from the suspect that they stopped for a bicycle violation.
The deputies have been removed from field duty during the standard investigations by the District Attorney’s Office, the coroner’s office, and the sheriff’s own Internal Affairs Bureau and inspector general.
In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be deploying body cameras to be used by all deputies starting sometime later this fall.
Let’s hope that they turn them on when they are supposed to and actually use them.
Original reporting by Amy Powell, Marc Cota-Robles, and ABC7.com staff.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.