Tensions rose Monday night in South Los Angeles over the shooting of a Black bicyclist, as residents wondered what led Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies to stop and fatally shoot him.
On Monday at 3:14 p.m., a man was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue. The encounter began when deputies stopped him for a vehicle code violation, according to ABC7. The sheriff’s department has not named the victim, but friends and family identified him as 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee.
Shelitria Dill, who works at a graphic design company in California City, said she knew Kizzee and called him a close friend.
“I’m just in a state of kind of shock,” she told Annenberg Media. “And I can’t say disbelief because it’s happened too much.”
Dill wants people to remember Kizzee as a kind and caring person. She said they met many mornings to drink coffee at her house and talk about life, people and getting out of the city.
“He was just thankful and appreciative of anything anybody [did] for him, and he will protect you with his life,” Dill said. “He called me ‘sis,’ and I believe without even [saying] that, he will stand on the front lines to protect me.”
She hopes people will remember not for this encounter with the deputies, but his accomplishments and the way he touched others’ lives.
According to ABC7, Kizzee was shot by deputies, whose names have not been released. A press release from the sheriff’s department said the man ran from deputies when they stopped him for the vehicle code violation. The department said the man began fighting with them when they caught up.
Right before the shooting, the deputies said he dropped a jacket at which time a black semi-automatic handgun fell to the ground. Deputies said the man made a motion toward the firearm, which prompted them to shoot.
The deputies have been removed from the field and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide investigators are continuing to investigate the incident.
“No person deserves to be shot down in the street like that,” Dill said. “I don’t care if he had a gun. I don’t care what was going on. If a man is fleeing you … there’s no reason for you to shoot a person.”
The shooting sparked members of the community to protest the death of another Black man at the hands of law enforcement. Community members and demonstrators gathered at the sheriff’s South L.A. station Monday night. The killing comes nine days after police in Kenosha, Wisc., shot Jacob Blake, who remains paralyzed from the waist down, and several months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Ben Crump, an attorney who represents the families of victims of police violence, posted on Instagram calling for people to come forward with any footage of the shooting.
“LA County sheriffs don’t have to wear body cameras, so there’s no known footage of what happened,” Crump wrote. “If you witnessed this incident or have a video of it, send it to us NOW.”.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has a long history of violence, brutality and abuse against Black and brown people in South L.A.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed funding to equip sheriff’s deputies with body cameras. Hutchinson advocates for these body cameras to provide more evidence in cases where law enforcement acts out of line.
“We hear what they say, it’s reported as a fact, but it’s not a fact because there’s no way to independently verify that.” Hutchinson said. “If we have photographic evidence, independent, verifiable, that everything you said happened exactly as you said, then there’s no issue.”
However, Dill argues that body cams won’t lessen the abuse Black and brown people face from law enforcement.
“I don’t think anything is going to change this,” Dill said. “It’s the way people feel about us is the way they feel about a Black person when you’re around them.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva addressed the shooting in a Facebook live video, expressing condolences to the victim’s family and revealing that an unnamed member of his department is a cousin of the dead bicyclist. Villanueva said the department will thoroughly investigate the shooting.
Annenberg Media reached out to the sheriff’s department for additional comments, but the department said no further information is available at this time.