Los Angeles is reeling from yet another fatal law enforcement shooting. On Monday, Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black man, was stopped by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies for an alleged vehicle code violation while riding his bike. Law enforcement says that Kizzee ran, dropping a bundle of clothes with a gun inside. Family members and neighbors are disputing the sheriff’s account, saying he had no gun. The interaction ended with deputies shooting and killing Kizzee, and his body was left in the street for hours. The incident comes just two months after LASD deputies shot and killed 18 year-old Andres Guardado in Gardena.
Mark Ridley Thomas is the LA County Supervisor for the second district, where both shootings occurred. Following the Kizzee shooting, Ridley-Thomas wrote a motion that he says will increase transparency and accountability in how deputy shootings are handled that passed unanimously this week.
“I simply think it's unacceptable to have county ordinances that are being disregarded by the county sheriff. We have an Office of the Inspector General and our county ordinances are prescriptive as relates to what his role should be, and part of that includes being a part of investigations of controversy of shootings that involve deputies,” Ridley-Thomas says. “We fully expect the sheriff to comply. To do otherwise is to be above the law.”
The supervisor told KCRW that Sheriff Alex Villanueva sought to overstep his boundaries by trying to prevent the corner from releasing the autopsy report on the Guardado shooting, and suing the Office of the Inspector General. Ridley-Thomas says that Villanueva’s reaction to his motion has been “belligerent and uninformed,” and stated that Villanueva needs a “pretty basic civics lesson.”
Ridley-Thomas says the latest shooting has provided an opportunity for Villanueva to prove he can conduct himself in a proper matter, and that he believes we need law enforcement to have a place in the community.
“I do believe that the shifting of resources is an important discussion. I do not embrace the point of view that here should be no law enforcement presence,” he says. “I believe that that radically undermines and or denies the real issue of criminal activity that takes place in our respective communities and there has to be an appropriate response for that.”