The deputies who shot Dijon Kizzee 16 times and killed him will not face criminal charges, according to a 19-page memo from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
On the afternoon of August 31, 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Christian Morales and his training officer Michael Garcia attempted to stop Kizzee for riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road, officials said in the memo. Kizzee got off the bike and ran. After a chase, Kizzee appeared to be surrendering but then struggled with Morales and dropped a 9mm pistol and other objects between he and the deputy, authorities said.
According to the memo, when Kizzee picked up the weapon, Morales stepped back and fired. Kizzee fell to the ground and was reaching for the gun when he was shot again, the findings say.
In all, he was struck 16 times and died at the scene. The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s autopsy report found at least four of those bullets causing “rapidly life-threatening wounds.” Some of his wounds were to the head, torso and back, the report said.
Kizzee’s shooting sparked protests over the treatment of Black people by law enforcement for several days.
“We find that Morales and Garcia acted lawfully in self-defense when they initially used deadly force against Dijon Kizzee,” the memo from the DA’s justice system integrity division says.
CNN is seeking comment from the sheriff’s department and Kizzee’s family, which in February 2021 filed a claim against the county for $35 million. The claim is a largely procedural move that could precede a wrongful death lawsuit.
The two deputies were not wearing body cameras but several surveillance and one cell phone cameras captured video and audio portions of the deadly event, authorities said.
“The footage of the … shooting itself, however, is of poor quality and a wall and metal rod fence obstruct much of the view,” the memo says.
Morales told investigators that Kizzee was riding on the wrong side of the road and almost collided with a car, according to the memo. Kizzee appeared to be holding clothing in his hands and because he could not see Kizzee’s hands, Morales said he drew his weapon as he went to stop Kizzee.
Kizzee dropped the bike and ran and the deputies followed on foot but turned around, got back in the car with Garcia as the driver, and drove in the direction Kizzee fled.
When they caught up with Kizzee, Garcia yelled stop and Kizzee put his hands in the air. Morales got out and approached Kizzee who looked to be surrendering, according to the memo.
“Kizzee’s right hand was wrapped with a green bath towel, and he held a red jacket in his left hand. Kizzee raised his hands in the air, still holding the garments. When Morales attempted to grab Kizzee’s hands, believing he was going to surrender, Kizzee struck Morales in the face,” officials write in the memo.
During a struggle, Kizzee dropped a Ruger 9mm pistol and picked it up from the ground, according to the report.
“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,” the memo says.
In 2020, attorney Carl Douglas said an autopsy commissioned by the family showed Kizzee didn’t die instantly and was writhing on the ground when shot with a second round of bullets.
He said in a statement at the time he believed Kizzee bled to death while officers waited for backup.
The memo says several times that video and photos corroborate the officers’ statement.
“Although the video evidence does not depict Kizzee point a pistol at the deputies, it otherwise confirms their statements about the incident,” it says.