LOS ANGELES >> Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Dijon Kizzee after they stopped the Black man on his bicycle for a traffic violation and he ran from them, punched one and then dropped a bundle that included a gun, authorities and relatives said.
The shooting death Monday afternoon comes on the heels of a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that left Jacob Blake, who is also Black, paralyzed and spurred days of protests, reinvigorating the national debate on racial injustice and policing.
Kizzee’s family and friends created a small memorial to the 29-year-old at the shooting scene in the South Los Angeles area on Tuesday, leaving flowers, balloons and candles just feet away from first responders’ discarded blue medical gloves and rolled bandages. More than 100 protesters had marched in the area the night before, some chanting “Say his name” and “No justice, no peace,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The sheriff’s department has not released Kizzee’s name, but two relatives confirmed his identity.
In interviews Tuesday with The Associated Press, relatives remembered Kizzee as an energetic young man with many friends and expressed anger at the shooting.
“You guys take care of dogs, you don’t take care of us,” Kizzee’s aunt Fletcher Fair said, addressing the sheriff’s department. “He was a sweet and loving young man. He had his whole life ahead of him and it was cut short by rogue sheriffs.”
Kizzee’s uncle Anthony Johnson, 33, recalled that the two grew up together and were as close as brothers. Johnson said he had often warned his nephew that, as a Black man, he had to be especially careful.
“‘You have a target on your back, just by being you,’” Johnson remembered saying as recently as a few weeks ago. “He was like, ‘yeah, all right, uncle,’ like he always says.”
Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean told the Los Angeles Times that investigators had not yet interviewed the two deputies involved, but he gave this account: When deputies tried to stop the man for riding his bicycle in violation of vehicle codes, he dropped his bike and ran. When they caught up to him he punched one of them in the face and dropped a bundle of clothes he was carrying. The deputies spotted a handgun in the bundle and opened fire.
“He was in possession of a firearm and did assault a deputy,” Dean said.
Neighborhood resident Arlander Givens, 68, questioned why deputies fired at a man who, according to the sheriff’s official, wasn’t holding a weapon.
“If he reached down to grab it, that’s different,” Givens told the Times. “But if it’s on the ground, why shoot? That means he was unarmed.”
Police say the handgun was recovered and no deputies were injured. TV news helicopters showed a gun near the body.
Dean, in a Monday afternoon news conference, said investigators had not yet interviewed witnesses or reviewed any surveillance or cellphone video.
“Give us time to conduct our investigation,” he said. “We will get all of the facts of this case and eventually present them.”
The Sheriff’s Department said multiple agencies are investigating.
Fair described her nephew as “a mother’s child,” saying he took care of his mother after a car crash until her death in 2011 from a heart attack. After that, he took care of his younger brother, Sean Jones, who is 18 and just graduated from high school.
Fair lives near where Kizzee was killed and couldn’t believe the circumstances surrounding the death of her nephew.
“How do you get a violation on a bicycle?” she asked. “I stayed here until they picked his body up. I didn’t want to leave.”