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LA County Watchdog Excluded From Observing Dijon Kizzee Autopsy

The head
of LA County’s Office of Inspector General said Thursday that the Sheriff’s
Department did not allow independent observation at the autopsy of Dijon
Kizzee, who was shot to death by two deputies after a confrontation on a
sidewalk in Westmont Monday afternoon.

Inspector
General Max Huntsman, who’s repeatedly complained publicly that Sheriff’s
officials have failed to cooperate with his office’s oversight investigations, told
members of the County’s Civilian Oversight Commission that he had requested to
attend the Coroner’s examination.

“We asked
specifically that they include us at the autopsy,” Huntsman said during a
virtual town hall meeting. “I was concerned when we didn’t hear back from them
so I called the coroner myself and the coroner told me that, or emailed him and
he told me that the autopsy would be over in an hour.”

“The
Sheriff’s Department had gone ahead, down to the autopsy, had it scheduled,
without telling us,” Huntsman said. 

Kizzee,
29, was fatally shot about 3:15 p.m. Monday near West 109th Place and South
Budlong Avenue. 

Earlier in the day, Sheriff Alex Villanueva told NBC4’s John Kadiz Klemack that Huntsman’s office was conducting an independent investigation of the shooting along with the FBI.

“Everything
is happening in the right order of events,” Villanueva said.

“Unfortunately
there were people five minutes into it already tweeting what they thought about
it, had no knowledge of what happened, drives the outrage that’s
premature,” Villanueva said.

Several
law enforcement sources told NBC4’s I-Team that the one of the two deputies
involved in the shooting was a trainee, and that the trainee had been struck in
the face just prior to the gunfire. The second deputy was the trainee’s
supervisor and training officer, the sources said. 

One of the
attorneys for Kizzee’s family says he worries law enforcement will contradict
state law as to what was legal when deputies first attempted to make contact
with Kizzee.

“Unless
the police officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause, a person is
allowed to run from police,” said Dale Galipo, an attorney for the Kizzee
family.

He says
deputies had no right to shoot Kizzee in the back as he ran away.

“You
can’t shoot someone for running away,” he said. “In fact, that would
be more reason not to shoot someone because that person clearly is not trying
to attack the officer, not trying to harm the officer, he’s trying to get away
from the officer.”

“People
can come up with reason after reason and they do – to blame black people for
our own deaths,” said Melina Abdullah, of Black Lives Matter.

Abdullah
says it’s not uncommon for people to run from police out of fear – a fear she
says, is full of merit.

“Police
do not represent a sense of safety or reassurance for black people,” she
said. “No black person I’ve met in my entire life feels safer when they
see a cop on the corner or a police car roll up behind them in traffic. We feel
anxious, we feel afraid.”

While the
sheriff didn’t get into any specifics, he said the deputies involved are
currently in the interview process and he said he grieves with the community of
Westmont, where deadly crimes are on the rise.

“The
crime rate in Westmont, the homicide rates itself, that place is known as death
alley for a reason,” he said.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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