Family of Dijon Kizzee call for Sheriff Villanueva's resignation
LOS ANGELES - The family of a man who was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies is now calling for Alex Villanueva to resign as sheriff.
Dijon Kizzee, 29, was fatally shot by two sheriff's deputies on Aug. 31 in the Westmont area while riding his bike.
Sheriff's officials said Kizzee was riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road when deputies stopped him for a vehicle code violation. After he was stopped, he allegedly tried to run away and dropped clothing items containing a firearm.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Kent Wegener said an autopsy determined Kizzee was shot in the chest, both arms, once in the back and suffered a grazing wound to the head.
Wegener said the deputies fired a total of 19 shots. The autopsy report has not been finalized, pending toxicology reports, although he died from multiple gunshot wounds, he said.
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"At one point, Kizzee's pistol drops to the ground, he bends over, reaches, picks up the gun and is shot while he stands with the gun in hand,'' Wegener said.
During the news conference, new video footage of the shooting was released.
Wegener added that one of the deputies did not recognize the object as a gun until "it came up and he saw the barrel pointing at him.''
It is not clear in the video if Kizzee was reaching for an object or if he had fallen during a struggle with deputies. The video shows the struggle, in which Kizzee can be seen swinging his arms at the deputies. The sheriff's department alleges that Kizzee punched a deputy in the face.
A 9mm semiautomatic handgun, loaded with 15 rounds, was recovered at the scene, according to Wegener, who said the gun was reported stolen during a Las Vegas residential burglary in February 2017. The department also recovered footage on Kizzee's phone that shows him with the same gun days before he was killed, according to the captain.
Najee Ali, a representative for Kizzee's family, held a press conference Thursday to provide the family's response to the sheriff's department investigation.
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Ali said the family is outraged and wants the city and nation to know that they, along with a coalition of community members, are calling on the resignation of Sheriff Villanueva.
They say he lacks leadership, character, and integrity.
“He is blaming a Black man for his own murder by the sheriff’s department. And they find it incredible that they can blame the victim for his own murder. Dijon was riding his bicycle and minding his own business and got stopped for a traffic code violation,” Ali stated.
Ali said Villanueva slammed the community during his press conference by saying the Westmont area is gang-infested with drugs and crime throughout the neighborhood. He said the sheriff used that as a reason to stop Kizzee.
Ali says Kizzee would still be alive if he wasn’t racially profiled by deputies.
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In a statement released Friday morning, Kizzee family attorney Carl Douglas said, "The family is disturbed by the unspoken messages and half-truths expressed in yesterday’s press staging. It was a media-driven sideshow, designed to deflect attention from the 19 shots two sheriff deputies fired at an unarmed man."
“Nineteen shots reflect poor training, and a failure to properly assess the need for deadly force. Nineteen shots reflect contagious fire and a fundamental lack of humanity for another living soul. Nineteen shots reflect poorly trained killers who overreacted in assessing the need to use deadly force," the statement continued. “After Dijon fell and was no longer a threat to any deputy, both deputies then fired 16 additional shots into Dijon's body, though he was already down, clearly mortally wounded, and posing no threat to any deputy. That sounds like an execution to me."
The fatal shooting sparked dozens of protests across Los Angeles.
FOX 11's Mary Stringini and City News Service contributed to this report.