Protests in Los Angeles continue after police kill an unarmed 29-year-old man
3rd September 2020
The protests in Los Angeles continued for the third year in a row on Wednesday over the murder of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee.
On Monday, Los Angeles County's Sheriff's Department stopped Kizzee, an African American, on suspicion of a vehicle code violation while riding a bicycle. According to the police, Kizzee then fled on foot with a jacket in his arms. Kizzee dropped the jacket during the chase, and MPs claimed it contained a hidden gun that prompted them to shoot Kizzee and kill him.
The lawyer representing Kizzee's family claims he was shot in the back more than 20 times, while the sheriff's department claims fewer than 20 shots were fired.
The sheriff's department also claims the young man hit one of the MPs in the course of the persecution. However, they also claim that neither officer was injured as a result of the incident. The department claims Kizzee tried to reach for the gun before he was shot. However, no evidence was presented to support the claim. So far, no deputy has been appointed by the department; both have been on leave.
Several witnesses to the incident, interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, said they saw no evidence of a threat from Kizzee to officials. Latiera Kirby, who had stopped by her mother's, was in her car when Kizzee ran to ask for help. "He said, 'They're coming to get me, they're coming to get me," Kirby remarked. Kizzee then offered Kirby money to evict him. Kirby refused him without knowing who he was and why he ran, and said that she then saw the MPs chasing Kizzee and shot him after he fell to the ground. "He had nothing in hand," Kirby said.
The shooting appalled nearby residents who were believed to have witnessed the execution of an innocent man by Los Angeles police officers. The neighbors shouted that he didn't have to be shot. "You don't have to shoot him that often! You could have insulted him," they said.
Another community resident who witnessed the shooting, 52-year-old Alida Trejo, said she heard between 8 and 11 gunshots after seeing Kizzee walk past her home. She saw a MP struggling to arrest Kizzee while neighbors told him not to oppose and the MP not to shoot. However, according to Trejo, "they say the man hit the deputy, but I never saw it."
The sheriff's department has claimed that they have no knowledge of the specific offense the young man committed while riding a bicycle, or why officers would foot chase him and then shoot him for such a minor offense.
It is likely that Kizzee was actually the subject of a so-called pre-textual traffic obstruction. With no likely cause for arrest, police follow a subject who drives a car, kicks a bicycle, or otherwise operates a vehicle until the suspect commits a traffic violation. At this point, the minor breach can be used as an excuse for more invasive search and interviewing.
The killing of Kizzee following the shooting of Jakob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, George Floyd in Minnesota and numerous others has sparked sustained protests over the past three days, including outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's station. Sheriff Alex Villanueva took the opportunity of the protests to seek sympathy for Kizzee's family, while absurdly establishing the moral equivalence between arbitrary street violence and targeted murders by police officers, noting that protests only concern the latter case seem to be.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is also under fire after 18-year-old Andres Guardado was killed in the West Compton area in June. Guardado worked as a security guard in a body shop. The sheriff's department alleges the young man pulled a gun on officials after they "watched" him. As with the Kizzee murder, no police calls were received in connection with the incident in which police shot Guardado five times in the back. The incident sparked thousands of protests which prompted the sheriff's department to destroy recordings of the incident that were being held by a local shopkeeper.
A whistleblower has since issued an affidavit that Guardado was murdered as part of an initiation into a violent police gang known as the "executioner". The whistleblower, Los Angeles County's Deputy Sheriff Austreberto Gonzalez, testified that "after members of the public are executed, members are labeled" executioners "or otherwise commit acts of violence in order to promote the gang." The "ink" Gonzalez is referring to are tattoos carried by executioners, including AK-47 and Nazi images. Gonzalez testified that the gangs often host "998 parties," named under the Police Code for a shooting involving an officer after a MP kills someone.
Gonzalez attorney Alan Romero told the Los Angeles Times, “We have a gang here that has grown to rule every aspect of life at Compton Station. It essentially controls the planning, distribution of tips to informants, and assignment to MPs in the station, giving preference to gang members as well as potential customers. "
Sherriff Villanueva County later said, "There are no gang of MPs running a station." Regarding Gonzalez's testimony, Villanueva noted, "I take these allegations very seriously and recently issued a policy specifically targeting illegal groups, surrogate cliques and sub-groups." Inspector General Max Huntsman noted, however, that he was "not aware of any implementation" of such guidelines.
Researchers have uncovered the existence of several gangs among law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, some of which date back to 1971. These include the "bandits" patrolling east LA, the "Lynwood Vikings" and the "3,000 boys" at the men's headquarters prison that earns its tattoos every time they break an inmate's bones.