Earlier this month, The Root reported that on August 31, 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee was fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. Details as to what happened during the shooting are a bit murky as accounts of what happened that day vary depending on who you ask and when—meaning 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. What we do know, according to attorneys representing Kizzee’s family, is that an independent autopsy shows Kizzee was shot 15 times.
The Los Angeles Times reports that attorney Carl Douglas said at a news conference Tuesday that the autopsy performed at the request of the family shows Kizzee was already on the ground when some of the shots were fired and that he didn’t immediately die from his wounds. According to CBS News, the autopsy report specifically says that 7 of the 15 shots hit Kizzee in the back and 3 were fired after he was already down.
“What this shows is Dijon Kizzee was not holding a gun in his hand when 15 shots struck him,” Douglas said.
“What this shows is he was alive and breathing and writhing in pain when the officers continued to stay away,” he continued, suggesting that the deputies had a chance to get emergency medical help for Kizzee and failed to do so. “When they got a shield first, and they had a shield walking up to the man while he was writhing in pain. All too often, law enforcement officers misinterpret writhing in pain as some sort of act of resistance.”
There are a few things worth mentioning here, such as the fact that this whole thing started because Kizzee was riding his bike on the wrong side of the street and the fact that the deputies’ versions of the story have changed at least twice.
From the Times:
The news conference followed a briefing last week at which Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other sheriff’s officials offered new details of what led up to the shooting, which has generated national attention and triggered days of protests.
They said Kizzee was riding his bike on the wrong side of the street when he was stopped by two deputies from the South L.A. station. Capt. Kent Wegener said Kizzee made a U-turn in front of deputies, dropped his bike on the sidewalk and ran.
As one deputy caught up to Kizzee, Wegener said, Kizzee lifted his arms, clothes in each hand, struck a deputy in the face, and a pistol dropped to the ground.
“He bends over, reaches, picks up the gun and is shot as he stands with the gun in hand,” Wegener said. “You will see that the deputy struggling with Kizzee does not arm himself until Kizzee bends down to pick up the gun he dropped.”
That narrative conflicts in some ways with prior versions of events. Sheriff’s officials had previously said that the shooting occurred after the gun fell to the ground. A day later, the Sheriff’s Department said it happened when Kizzee “made a motion” toward the gun.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the family, disputes the latest official report of what happened between Kizzee and the deputies.
“He put his hands in the air,” Crump said Tuesday, CBS reports. “He put his hands in the air, dropped the bag, and they continued to shoot him, even though he posed no threat.”
According to Douglas, witnesses also reported that Kizzee did not have anything in his hands in the moment he was shot.