An independent autopsy commissioned by the family of 29-year-old Black man Dijon Kizzee found that he was struck 15 times by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies last month, attorneys for the family said Tuesday.
Seven of the shots fired by deputies struck Kizzee on his back side, including arms and hands, said Attorney Carl Douglas. The fatal shot struck Kizzee in lung.
“He did not die instantly, he was writhing on the ground in pain when officers opened up on him,” Douglas said.
“You can tell by the audio of the shooting that there were three or four shots, and then a pause, and 15 additional shots.”
LASD investigators looking into the fatal shooting said last week that Kizzee picked up a gun he had dropped before two deputies fired 19 rounds.
The independent autopsy was conducted by Dr. John Hiserodt, who found that Kizzee bled to death after blood filled his lungs. Hiserodt believes Kizzee was shot even as he was moving around — likely writhing in pain, according to a statement from Douglas.
“The deputies who fired their weapons, called for back-up, and spent several critical minutes waiting for back-up to arrive, while Dijon was bleeding to death in the street,” the statement said. “The independent autopsy supports my contention that this shooting was an execution, plain and simple.”
Douglas said the incident shows excessive force and that Kizzee was not posing a deadly threat to anyone.
“He was shot 19 times and I can care less what Sheriff Villanueva said seeking to justify that lack of humanity,” Douglas said in response. “Nineteen times of firing into a man’s body says to me that there’s been poor training.”
LASD said it had no comment regarding the private autopsy results.
Last week, LASD Homicide Bureau Capt. Kent Wegener said the autopsy report has not yet been finalized by the coroner’s office. The LA County medical examiner’s office confirmed earlier this month that Kizzee died from gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide.
Deputies first attempted to stop Kizzee on August 31 for “riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road” and “splitting traffic,” Wegener said in a news conference last Thursday. Kizzee refused to stop, abandoned his bicycle, and fled on foot with a green towel in one hand and a red and black jacket in the other hand, he said.
Kizzee’s 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which was reported stolen in 2017, fell to the ground during the encounter with deputies. Wegener said Kizzee bent over and reached back to pick up the pistol before deputies fired. The gun was loaded with 15 live rounds.
Benjamin Crump, another attorney representing the Kizzee family, said last week that video footage of the incident contradicts the sheriff’s department’s findings.
On September 2, Crump posted a grainy cell phone video footage recorded from a house that purportedly shows the deputies pursuing Kizzee. It shows him walking away from the officers before one closes in on him. Kizzee appears to bend over before the deputy backs up rapidly and opens fire.
Kizzee’s shooting sparked protests in a city that has already seen months-long unrest following the late May death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
“It’s happening so fast we can barely keep up with the hashtags,” Crump said Tuesday of police shootings of Black people, evoking Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
“While America is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, we in Black America are dealing with the 1619 pandemic.”