Sheriff's MPs fired chemical irritants at protesters who gathered outside the sheriff's station in south Los Angeles to protest the fatal shooting of Dijon Kizzee by MPs in the Westmont area last week.
The protest against Black Lives Matter at 1310 W. Imperial Highway began at 4 p.m. On Saturday, and quickly growing to around 200-300 people, friends, family, and activists remembered the life of Dijon Kizzee, called for law enforcement agencies to have their funding removed, and asked attendees to elect Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey from office .
It was unclear why the sheriff's MPs fired at least three non-fatal warning shots at 8:30 p.m. Saturday when no one appeared to have violated the line, witnesses said. A spokesman for the LA County Sheriff's Office said protesters began throwing stones and bottles at MPs, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The inspector general informed the sheriff's regulator that he had been locked out and the sheriff responded. Eric Leonard will report on September 4, 2020.
A loudspeaker announcement indicated that MPs were concerned about a protester with an umbrella, but the video showed that he was complying with the rules at the time of the exchange of fire.
The protester, who took his name only as A.J. called, admitted he stretched the umbrella slightly over the police tape, but said he only did so because he was trying to make sure another person was protected from non-lethal bullets that had already been fired.
"You hit my foot," he said. "That was the very first shot."
A hail of irritating fire broke out a few minutes later, and at 8:40 p.m. Six loud bangs had been heard. At least one protester was then seen throwing a water bottle at MPs
At 8:43 p.m. MPs declared the crowd an illegal gathering and gave the protesters 10 minutes to clear out.
Kizzee was fatally shot at 3:15 p.m. on August 31, during a confrontation with MPs near West 109th Place and South Budlong Avenue. Sheriff's officials said Kizzee rode a bicycle in the area and MPs stopped him for an unspecified vehicle code violation.
"I appreciate everyone who's out here," Kizzee's cousin Shaneika Hall, 32, told the crowd on Saturday. “I know he wants me to be strong. And this time, in this moment – right now – he's standing up there and applauding everyone. "
Hall, wearing a Child of God T-shirt, spoke through her JUSTICE FOR DIJON KIZZEE mask and said she appreciated the support the family has received over the past few days.
"It's very, very difficult," she said. "I just lost my brother two months ago and I have to stand here today because someone wanted to take his life, because he is not happy with his life."
As she spoke, she clutched a placard with her cousin's face, demanding that Sheriff Alex Villanueva be removed.
"I'm angry," she said, and burst into tears. "We're angry. His family is angry."
Another Kizzee cousin, 29-year-old Summer Jones, said he wanted law enforcement to move from a "police" mentality to a "public safety" one.
"The police were wrong," he said. "You won't get away with it at all."
After Kizzee was stopped, he tried to run away and, according to the Sheriff's Department, was fighting with MPs.
"Our suspect was holding some clothes in his hands, slapping one of the officers in the face and dropping objects into his hands," said Lt. Brandon Dean. "MPs noted that there was a black, semi-automatic pistol in the clothes he dropped. At that point there was a shootout involving MPs."
Why Kizzee was shot while he was not holding the gun was not clear, although the sheriff's department said he "made a move towards the gun".
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Kizzee's family, said the victim was shot in the back more than 20 times, although there was no confirmation of the number of shots fired.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times that the MPs involved in the shooting were a trainee and his manager.
Dominique Brown, Ryan Twyman's eldest sister, who was reportedly unarmed when she was shot and killed by sheriff's MPs last year, said she should go shopping with Kizzee just hours after he died.
"I don't know what we have to do to make it understandable," she said, and asked the many faces from outside the Westmont community to remember Kizzee after the demonstration. “After that, when you all leave here, what will you do? What are you all going to do to make a difference for us? "
She invited participants to vote on the ballot box and led a chant against Lacey.
“I don't like voting, but I do vote,” she said, encouraging people to vote in advance by mail. "I am voting for the right things."
Around 6 p.m. the crowd headed towards the Harbor (110) Freeway and blocked all lanes going north from 6:30 p.m. for about an hour with the California Highway Patrol as a beautiful orange sun sets over southern Los Angeles.
"We're here today to raise the name and life of Dijon Kizzee," said Joseph Williams of Black Lives Matter LA, speaking to protesters on the freeway. "We will continue to fight for justice in Dijon's name and on behalf of all those stolen by the police."
Around 7 p.m. As the crowd returned to the streets, 24-year-old Anton Drahworn jumped from the side of a pickup truck with the speakers that had amplified William's voice.
“He was a good kid,” he said of Kizzee, the friend he played out with. "Whether or not he did something bad or wrong, if you catch a suspect – I'm not saying he did something bad or wrong – don't shoot him. You contain him and bring him for investigation. What happened to it ? "
The MPs who shot Kizzee have been removed from the field pending review, as is standard practice, the sheriff's department said Tuesday evening.
Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents the division's MPs, said, "As always, we look forward to a fair review of the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident."
The sheriff's MPs did not wear body cameras. Crump asked anyone with video footage of the confrontation to report. Some doorbell recordings recording the shots fired were released on Tuesday.
The shooting sparked protests Monday night and Tuesday night, and activists demanded that MPs involved in the shooting be arrested and prosecuted.
Villanueva did not discuss details of the shooting at the board meeting on Tuesday, but instead offered condolences to Kizzee's relatives.
That same night, mourners gathered around candles that had been placed on the site of Kizzee's death and asked why a sheet that had hidden his body had not been cleaned.
There were still around 100 to 200 protesters in the crowd on Saturday when they returned to the sheriff's station at 8:10 p.m. Some approached the yellow barrier, which was set back by the 50 or so MPs guarding the station, while others stayed on the street.
So much tear gas was used by the Sheriff's Department that it got through Imperial and into local residents' courtyards.
"This is crazy," said Larry Davis, 28, who lives across the street from Imperial. "I've been right here and I'm on fire."
Davis hadn't been part of the protest but was now wiping his face with a cloth.
The demonstration appeared to have been peaceful until MPs fired ammunition, he said.
One protester showed what he said was an irritating ball that had caused the piping on the left side of his neck.
And R.J. Dawson, 32, of Black Unity LA, said it was surprising that MPs declared an illegal gathering, considering how well everyone had behaved all day.
"They simply opened fire on us," he said. "They just evicted everyone and started shooting canisters."
It felt like the sheriff's department had been encouraged to quell dissent after Black Lives Matter's demonstration sizes fell slightly from the tens of thousands that were at their peak earlier this year, he said.
"We were out here about George Floyd and we were filling the streets," he said. "But now someone is dying in our own backyard and that's all the people we're getting – and even if these people come here to protest – (MPs) now have the power to push (protesters) away only because We have no more numbers. "
"They wait for people to stop looking and they take advantage of the situation and then try to turn it around to make it look like we're hostile," he said. "But this thing was peaceful all day." Literally all day. "
Lt. Milory, from South Los Angeles Station, said she was unaware of ammunition used by MPs during Saturday's demonstration, and said protesters were the ones who attacked officers with some sort of air strike.
"They threw fireworks and stones," she said, adding that protesters also threw bottles. "As always."
She said the protesters acted childishly and had to "grow up".
"It means going to a store and buying it," she said of the items demonstrators had given MPs.
If any irritants, lightning grenades, or non-lethal bullets had been used, she said, "it would have been done to protect the facility based on the protesters' actions."
No arrests were made, Milroy said.