Police in Los Angeles on Monday shot and killed a Black man after officers stopped him while riding a bike for what was being described on as a “bicycle code violation,” sparking a night of protests in California’s biggest city.
The victim was identified as Dijon Kizzee and witnesses have reportedly blamed the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) for overreacting.
However, the LASD attempted to justify the killing by claiming when they accosted the 29-year-old, he dropped a gun, ran away and ultimately assaulted an officer before he was shot. There is graphic cell phone footage on social media showing portions of the encounter, which prompted protests into Tuesday morning.
The LASD said Kizzee was carrying an armful of clothes but that he dropped them before he fled, revealing a gun among the apparent laundry. It was unclear if riding a bike while carrying the clothes was the purported violation Kizzee was stopped for, but one witness told CBS Los Angeles that he posed no threat to the officers.
“He had a towel and he had his clothes and his pants couldn’t even stay up, so that’s what made him slow down so they had enough to get him,” the woman who granted anonymity said. “They didn’t have to shoot him more than 5 times, they could have shot him one time in the leg.”
She continued: “What’s the use of having the prison system if y’all are just gonna kill us? What are y’all here for? Who are you protecting?”
Police offered a different narrative with varying chronology.
“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,” Lt. Brandon Dean said. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black semiautomatic handgun, at which time a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
The Los Angeles Times reported the sequence of events happening a bit differently:
“When the deputies attempted to contact the man, he dropped the bicycle and ran north on Budlong for one block with deputies in pursuit, Dean said. In the 1200 block of West 109th Place, deputies again tried to make contact with the man, and he punched one of them in the face, Dean said.
“In doing so, the man dropped a bundle of clothing he had been carrying. The deputies spotted a black handgun in the bundle, Dean said, and both opened fire, killing the man.”
According to the Open Source Intelligence news website, “at least 2 officers began unloading their weapons” after “Kizzee panicked, punched one officer, and started fleeing. While running away, Dijon dropped his clothes, and in the process, a black semiautomatic handgun fell to the ground with the articles of clothing.”
LASD said reports of as many as 20 shots being fired were untrue.
The identity of the officers involved in Kizzee’s killing was not immediately revealed.
Protesters took to the streets and marched to LASD headquarters after the shooting and chanted phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” “Say his name” and “No justice, no peace.”
It was unclear where on his body Kizzee was shot, but one consistency with the differing narratives is that he was struck while running away, suggesting he could have been hit in the back.
Kizzee’s death is the most recent instance of apparently preventable police violence against Black people and follows last week’s shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, also 29, was shot in the back multiple times while attempting to enter his vehicle on Aug. 23.
This is America.