Two Los Angeles County deputies will not be criminally charged in the shooting of a Black cyclist, per The Associated Press. The officers fired over 16 rounds at the man, who bystanders say was laying on the ground. The family is now suing the county for $35 million.
Dijon Kizzee, 29, was riding his bike in the opposite direction of traffic when deputies Christian Morales and Michael Garcia tried to stop him for a traffic violation, the report says. Police say he dropped the bike and ran away while holding a bundle of towels hiding a firearm. The Justice System Integrity Division of the county’s district attorney’s office found Kizzee was holding a pistol at the time he was shot, per AP.
In a document obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the prosecutors said the deputies had probable cause to believe force was necessary to defend themselves. However, it’s unclear if Kizzee posed a threat to the officers when they killed him.
More from the LA Times:
Kizzee dropped the bike and fled. Deputies caught up to him a block away and found Kizzee appearing ready to surrender with his hands wrapped in towels or garments, according to the memo. Instead, Kizzee punched Morales in the face, causing Garcia to “run in to assist,” the memo said.
“Kizzee bent down and picked up the pistol. Morales stepped back, drew his weapon, and fired multiple shots at Kizzee, who turned away from Morales and fell to the ground, substantially out of view of the surveillance camera,” the memo read.
As Kizzee collapsed from his injuries, both deputies thought he was reaching for the weapon a second time and fired another volley, according to the memo. Kizzee was shot 16 times.
Some witnesses contended Kizzee did not throw a punch at Morales, and others said his hands were empty when he was killed. Latiera Irby, 29, said that she saw Kizzee get into a scuffle with the deputies and that they opened fire only after Kizzee had fallen to the ground.
Unfortunately, no video footage of the incident could pinpoint whether Kizzee was holding a gun. Per the Times’ report, the deputies hadn’t begun wearing body cameras until after the incident. It seems the presence of the firearm alone was enough evidence to support the deputies’ self-defense claim.
Kizzee’s family wasn’t settling for that. They’ve filed a $35 million lawsuit against the county and the two deputies.