There is no video evidence to support critical details of the deputies’ story.
The office of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón will not prosecute the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s (LASD) deputies who shot and killed 29-year-old cyclist Dijon Kizzee on August 31, 2020, according to a review obtained by Knock LA.
“We already know how this system go. We knew a fight for justice and prosecuting these police was a long shot,“ said Jonetta Ewing, Kizzee’s partner. “We know that they not only murdered Dijon, they done murdered plenty of others. So, I don’t need a court or a judge to tell me that they murdered him. They murdered him. We see it in the video. Sixteen shots is murder, period.”
LA County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement this afternoon: “My heart goes out to Mr. Kizzee’s family for the loss of their loved one. As District Attorney, I have prioritized conducting thorough reviews of homicides and shootings of civilians by law enforcement and have not shied away from pursuing criminal charges against law enforcement officers when I believe the evidence is sufficient to prove a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt.”
According to the DA review, deputy Michael Garcia and his trainee, deputy Christian Morales, were on patrol on 110th Street when Garcia told Morales to stop Kizzee for riding his bike on the wrong side of the road. Morales told investigators he got out of the patrol car with his weapon drawn. Kizzee got off the bike and ran away. Garcia told Morales, “Leave it alone. Let’s go. It is what it is.”
But the deputies got back into their vehicle and drove after Kizzee, north on Budlong Avenue. They spotted him on 109th Place. Morales got out of the car, and said Dijon told him, “My hands are up.” Video shows Morales approaching Kizzee and attempting to grab his hands and Kizzee pulling away. [The footage is graphic; please watch with care.]
Kizzee pulls away from Morales. Morales told investigators that Kizzee struck him in the face and dropped a pistol on the ground. Morales claims that Kizzee then bent down and pointed the weapon at him, prompting him to shoot.
Garcia said he saw Kizzee drop something but didn’t recognize it as a gun until he picked it up and pointed it at the deputies. The video shows Kizee bending over, but not pointing the gun — which the DA’s office acknowledges in their review. In fact, the video appears to show the gun skittering along the ground as Kizzee is shot.
The Justice System Integrity Division of the DA’s office, which investigates all deputy shootings, concluded that “force was necessary to defend against a threat of death when they initially fired their weapons.” The review also says that “there is insufficient evidence that Morales’ or Garcia’s later series of shots, after Kizzee fell to the ground, were not fired in lawful self-defense, given the deputies’ statements and lack of confirming or contradicting video evidence.”
According to his statement, Gascón offered to meet with Kizzee’s family and provided them an advanced copy of the shooting memorandum, which stated that the office would not be seeking criminal charges against the two deputies. “Our analysis does not consider whether a case against these officers could be proven in a civil proceeding or in an administrative proceeding, only whether we could prove the case in a criminal court beyond a reasonable doubt. … We will continue to thoroughly review every officer-involved-shooting investigation presented to us and provide the family, the officers, and the public with the rationale for our decision in those cases where we believe we cannot proceed with the filing of a criminal case.”
Ewing told Knock LA that while the DA’s office has decided not to prosecute Kizzee’s killers, she is grateful for charges filed against other LASD personnel who have killed people.
“I just appreciate that Gascón is prosecuting some of the police,” she said.
Earlier this year, the DA’s office announced manslaughter charges against Deputy Andrew Lyons, who killed Ryan Twyman. Deputy Remin Pineda was charged with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and assault under color of authority in the killing of David Ordaz Jr. last week.
“I’m fighting for everybody because I don’t want nobody else to feel how I feel, especially how I feel right now and how I’ve been feeling for the past two years,” Ewing says. “Justice for Dijon Kizzee forever. 16 shots is murder. You know, they murdered him. I’ll never stop fighting.”