The video is grainy, and a fence blocks the full view of what led to the shooting, but Kizzee appears to try to run away and is seen falling to the ground, at which point officers shoot at him several times. In a statement, the sheriff’s office said a firearm fell to the ground in the scuffle but did not indicate that Kizzee was holding it as a weapon. The fence in the video obscures what was on the ground as officers opened fire.
Witnesses said the deputies continued to fire at Kizzee after he fell, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Kizzee’s relatives and legal representatives, along with dozens of protesters who poured into the streets of Los Angeles this week, say his death is another example of the excessive use of police force directed at Black people.
Kizzee family attorney Carl Douglas called the incident “an outrageous execution” and said Kizzee was shot in the back 15 times, even after he was on the ground and not posing a threat.
Douglas condemned what he called the sheriff department’s failure to implement necessary changes to prevent misconduct and excessive use of force. “The county has never rid the department of its gang culture,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “It is a disgrace that there is a culture of mistrust, racism and fear in the county sheriff’s department.” Douglas said that he hoped Kizzee’s death would inspire “a clear investigation” of the department’s malpractices.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department declined several requests for comment on the allegations of malpractice, citing its ongoing investigation.
The fatal incident began Monday around 3 p.m., when officers tried to stop Kizzee for violating vehicle rules while riding a bicycle, Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said, without clarifying what codes Kizzee allegedly broke.
When the deputies tried to make contact with Kizzee regarding the violations, he dropped his bicycle and ran, the sheriff’s department said in its statement.
After a chase, deputies say, Kizzee struck one of them in the face and dropped a jacket, at which point a semiautomatic handgun fell to the ground. The department said Kizzee then “made a motion toward the firearm,” which is when the deputies opened fire.
The family’s attorneys argued that even if Kizzee dropped a gun, he wasn’t holding it or posing a threat when the officers fired their weapons at him.
The two deputies involved in the shooting were a trainee and his supervising officer, the Los Angeles Times reported. Douglas said the deputies engaged in “contagious fire,” in which a training officer opens fire and the trainee follows or vice versa.
By Monday night, a large crowd had gathered outside the sheriff’s office to demand justice for Kizzee while also decrying the department’s lack of body cameras, which are scheduled to be implemented this fall.
Protests in the Westmont neighborhood in southern Los Angeles continued nightly this week, alongside demonstrations in other cities against police brutality in the cases of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and others.
Many protesters see Kizzee’s death as yet another painful episode of systemic police brutality and racism disproportionately affecting minority communities.
“This shows just how broken our law enforcement and policing institutions are and how they have been built on and continue to perpetuate racial stereotypes,” said Claudia Ruiz, a policy analyst at UnidosUS, an advocacy group for Latinos.
“This legalized genocide of colored people has to stop,” said lawyer Ben Crump, who is also part of the Kizzee family’s high-profile legal team, urging authorities to pass a “meaningful policing reform” that would protect Black people’s lives.