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Dijon Kizzee’s father tentatively settles suit alleging excessive force by L.A. County deputies

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The father of a Black man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in 2020 has tentatively settled a lawsuit that alleged the department used excessive force and committed civil rights violations.

In a court filing this week, attorneys for Dijon Kizzee’s father, Edwin Kizzee, told a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge that they had reached a conditional settlement with the county, which is subject to approval by the L.A. County Claims Board. A status hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 28.

The terms of the proposed settlement were not disclosed.

The lawsuit, filed against L.A. County in September 2021, alleged the “unlawful use of deadly force” by deputies and that the department failed to properly train the deputies on the use of force.

Attorneys for the county denied all the allegations, arguing in a court filing that deputies acted “in good faith and without malicious intent” to harm Kizzee or deprive him of his constitutional rights.

In February 2021, attorneys for Edwin Kizzee and Dijon Kizzee’s aunt Fletcher Fair filed a legal claim against the county that sought $35 million in damages. The claim alleged that deputies decided to stop and detain Kizzee because of his race, “as opposed to any legitimate law enforcement reason.”

Kizzee, 29, was fatally shot on Aug. 31, 2020, by sheriff’s deputies who tried to stop him for riding his bike on the wrong side of the street in South L.A., spurring weeks of protests.

The deputies fired 19 shots. Kizzee was struck 15 times, according to an autopsy commissioned by his family.

Sheriff’s officials said Kizzee was riding his bike on the wrong side of the street when he was stopped by two South L.A. deputies. Kizzee made a U-turn in front of deputies, dropped his bike on the sidewalk and ran, according to the department.

When one of the deputies caught up to Kizzee, he struck the deputy in the face and a pistol Kizzee was carrying dropped to the ground, according to the department.

Kizzee bent down and picked up the pistol and that’s when one of the deputies fired multiple shots at him. As Kizzee collapsed from his injuries, both deputies thought he was reaching for the weapon a second time and fired another volley, authorities said.

Much of the altercation was caught on video. But parts of the struggle with deputies right before the shooting are partially obstructed by a wall and difficult to discern.

After reviewing the evidence, the L.A. County district attorney’s office declined to press charges against the two deputies last fall. In a 19-page memo, prosecutors said 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.”

Kizzee’s family and activists have said the shooting wasn’t warranted and disputed the agency’s account.

The lawsuit alleged that Kizzee “did nothing to justify this use of serious and unreasonable force against him.”

Kizzee, his attorneys said, was “at worst, merely a Black man riding his bicycle in a manner that may be contrary traffic safety regulations, but which is rarely if ever enforced by sheriff deputies patrolling that neighborhood, especially if the rider is not a Black male.”

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