Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies will not face criminal charges in the 2020 fatal shooting of Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black man, according to a report released Tuesday (November 15) by the county prosecutor's office.
In the report, which was released by the District Attorney's Office Justice System Integrity Division on Tuesday but dated Nov. 10, the office concluded that LA County deputies Christian Morales and Michael Garcia "reasonably believed, based on the totality of the circumstances, that force was necessary to defend against a threat of death when they initially fired their weapons, and there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Morales' or Garcia's final shots were not fired in lawful self-defense or defense of another,'' per NBC Los Angeles.
The conclusion comes after protests erupted across Southern California over the shooting of Kizee on August 31, 2020.
According to the report, deputies attempted to stop Kizee for riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, prompting the 29-year-old man to discard the bike and flee on foot. Deputies caught up to him about a block away. As Morales approached Kizzee, he raised his hands holding a green towel in one and a red jacket in the other, per the report. The report states that "Kizzee struck Morales in the face,'' when the deputy attempted to grab his hands. This prompted Garcia to run and assist his partner.
"The struggle caused Kizzee to drop a Ruger 9mm pistol on the ground, between him and Morales, as they stood inches apart, face to face,'' the report states. "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. According to both deputies, Kizzee went to the ground but began reaching for the pistol, ignoring their commands to stop. Morales and Garcia fired several more rounds in rapid succession, followed by a slower series. Garcia fired the final shot several seconds after the preceding shot.''
Kizzee was shot 16 times, according to the report.
More, an attorney for Kizzee's family alleged last year that the victim wasn't killed instantly, but was "writhing on the ground in pain when officers opened up on him.''
"Witnesses said that he never threatened any officer with anything,'' attorney Carl Douglas said. "And then, once that gun dropped to the ground, witnesses say that the training officer fired four times, striking Mr. Kizzee in his chest. And after Mr. Kizzee fell to the ground, witnesses say the other officer joined and they both opened up and struck Mr. Kizzee's body more than 16 different times.''
Sheriff Alex Villanueva alleged at a news conference earlier this month that the DA's office had already concluded its investigation into the Kizzee shooting earlier this year. Villanueva accused District Attorney George Gascón of intentionally withholding the reports that cleared his deputies of wrongdoing until after the midterm elections.
The DA's Office denied Villanueva's allegations in a statement, saying that all reports "go through a chain of command and are not finalized until Gascón or his designee signs off on them and the families involved are notified," per NBC Los Angeles.
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