Protests in Los Angeles continued for a second night following the police shooting of Black man Dijon Kizzee, 29, on Monday afternoon, who officers say was riding a bike in “violation of vehicle codes”.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said that two L.A. sheriff’s deputies approached Kizzee on his bike before he ran and they eventually caught up to him, prompting Kizzee to drop a bundle of clothes he had been carrying, from which a semiautomatic handgun apparently fell.
Dean said that officers opened fire as Kizzee appeared to reach towards the handgun.
Kizzee died after they fired up to 20 rounds, Dean said, while the officers, who have not been identified, have been removed from patrol duty for the time being.
Dean told reporters: “Whether the firearm was actually in his hand, if he was motioning towards it, I don’t have those specifics because we haven’t interviewed the actual deputies who were there yet,” according to Reuters.
But witnesses who spoke to Reuters said that Kizzee was not a threat, did not punch officers as initially claimed, and did not have a handgun, while officers reportedly continued to fire even as Kizzee lay motionless on the ground.
Protests began soon after in south L.A.’s Westmont community, with demonstrators gathering outside south L.A.’s sheriff’s station, while local campaigners organized a march on Tuesday.
Unverified phone footage taken by a bystander and posted on Facebook, appears to show a man running away from officers along the street while clutching a bundle of clothes. The footage then appears to show a man lying face down on the ground, with two deputies pointing their guns towards him. More deputies later arrive and appear to handcuff the man, who appears motionless.
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, representing Kizzee’s family, tweeted: “They say he ran, dropped clothes and a handgun. He didn’t pick it up, but cops shot him in the back 20+ times then left him for hours.”
Dean told reporters on Tuesday that he was unsure of the vehicle code that Kizzee allegedly violated, adding it is “not uncommon” for deputies to stop bicycles.
Kizzee’s fatal shooting is the latest death of a Black person at the hands of police to gain widespread attention, in a year that has seen a resurgence of Black Lives Matter movement fuelled by public anger at the disproportionate, and sometimes fatal, violence experienced by Black men and women at the hands of police of Black men and women at the hands of police. Some of the most high-profile fatal shootings have been followed by sustained calls for officers involved to not just be placed on administrative leave, but to be arrested and criminally charged, such as the three officers—Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove—involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. Kizzee’s shooting comes days after a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot unarmed Black man Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. The shooting of Blake, also 29, renewed anti-racism protests in Kenosha and other U.S. cities including Portland, which has seen nearly 100 days of sustained protest since the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump visited Kenosha but did not visit Blake’s family. Trump instead used the controversial stop to push his campaign message of “law and order”, while he backed police, condemned protesters and dodged questions about systemic racism and police brutality at the heart of protesters’ actions.