The family of Dijon Kizzee has filed a $35 million claim for damages against Los Angeles County accusing the county’s sheriff’s department of failing to train its deputies worth a damn and accusing those deputies of using unreasonable deadly force. If you’re new to Kizzee’s story, the 29-year-old Black man was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in L.A. County last August after they reportedly stopped him for riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road. The altercation and shooting that followed were partially caught on a resident’s RING camera. As The Root previously reported, details surrounding the shooting have been vague at best because, while the deputies claim Kizzee was armed and hostile, “there are inconsistencies between what witnesses reported and what the deputies involved say happened, as well as inconsistencies and changes within the deputies’ accounts in general.”
According to CNN, the move by Kizzee’s family to file the claim “is a largely procedural one that must be made before a lawsuit can be filed.” Carl Douglas, the family’s attorney, said he expects the claim to be rejected but he apparently believes it needed to be filed nonetheless.
“Mr. Kizzee did nothing to justify this use of serious and unreasonable force against him,” the attorneys wrote in the claim, the L.A. Times reports. “He was not suspected of having committed violence against any person. The deputies far outnumbered him, and were better trained and equipped to detain and handcuff him without shooting him 16 times.”
Investigators have said Kizzee picked up a gun he had dropped before two deputies fired 19 rounds. An attorney for the Kizzee family, though, says video shows Kizzee fleeing the officers.
The deputies “negligently, carelessly, and mistakenly investigated the presence of Mr. Kizzee who continued riding his bicycle away from them, and negligently concluded that Mr. Kizzee posed a serious threat to their safety, necessitating the use of deadly force against him,” the claim states.
From the start, Kizzee’s story has felt like one where the likelihood of even getting down to the truth of what happened that day is slim-to-none, let alone reaching anything that feels remotely like justice. At this point, there are too many unanswered questions to count; of course, that didn’t stop attorneys from asking the most obvious ones during a Thursday news conference.
“Why all of the shots and why multiple shots when he’s unarmed laying on the ground?,” attorney Dale Galipo asked, ABC 7 reports. “Is that really necessary? Is that what we want our children to see?” Galipo appeared to be referencing an independent autopsy requested by Kizzee’s family that showed “7 of the 15 shots hit Kizzee in the back and 3 were fired after he was already down,” as we previously reported.
“While Mr. Kizzee’s lungs were filling up with blood, they approached him like he was some sort of an animal holding a machine gun and pointing it at them,” Douglas said during the conference.
Members of Kizzee’s family were also at the conference and his aunt, Fletcher Fair, pointed out that, regardless of what her nephew may have done wrong that day, he was treated like he was less than human.
“He was no animal,” Fair said. “He didn’t deserve to die like that and be alone like that.”