A fatal police shooting has sparked protests in Los Angeles after officers killed an African American man who they stopped for allegedly riding his bike unlawfully.
Dijon Kizzee, 29, was riding his bike in a south Los Angeles neighbourhood on Monday afternoon when two police officers ordered him to stop for a vehicle code violation, according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
It is unclear what vehicle codes Mr Kizzee allegedly violated.
The 29-year-old then attempted to flee on foot and when the officers caught up to him an altercation allegedly occurred, leading to Mr Kizzee punching one of the officers in the face.
During the altercation he dropped a bundle of clothes he was carrying, with authorities claiming the police officers spotted a gun inside the clothes resulting in them opening fire.
“The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black semiautomatic handgun, at which time a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” LA County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Brandon Dean told reporters.
Lieutenant Dean was unable to confirm whether Mr Kizzee was actually reaching for the gun at the time of the shooting
“So, he did not have the gun in his hand, it had already dropped to the ground, so when he was actually shot, he was unarmed at that point?” a reporter asked during the press conference.
Lieutenant Dean said he didn’t know whether Mr Kizzee was armed or not.
“If this individual was reaching for a semiautomatic handgun, I would suggest … that’s probably why deadly force was employed,” he said.
Mr Kizzee was pronounced dead at the scene, with police saying the handgun was recovered and no deputies were injured.
Lieutenant Dean said neither officer was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.
An investigation is ongoing into the shooting.
Deja, a woman who witnessed the shooting, told AFP that she yelled “don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him” as the deputies tried to stop Mr Kizzee, who lived in her neighbourhood.
“They were trying to grab and take his stuff away from him and then finally when it failed, he turned around to run and they tasered him in the back of his leg,” Deja, who would only give her first name, said.
“He turned around and then they shot him.”
Deja said deputies handcuffed Mr Kizzee after the shooting.
Several hours after Mr Kizzee’s death, about 100 protesters gathered at the scene of the shooting and marched to the sheriff’s station.
Many of the protesters were carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs and “Say his name” or “No justice, no peace.”
Arlander Givens, a resident in the neighbourhood, questioned why the officers opened fire on a man if he wasn’t actually holding the weapon.
“If he reached down to grab it, that’s different,” Mr Givens told the Los Angeles Times.
“But if it’s on the ground, why shoot? That means he was unarmed.”
Mr Kizzee’s death follows months of protests and riots over the killing of George Floyd, who died after a police officer continually knelt on his neck during an arrest.
The protests flared up again Kenosha, Wisconsin, after an African American man, Jacob Blake, was shot by police in front of his three young sons.
The incident left Mr Blake paralysed and prompted demonstrations across multiple cities.
The protests turned deadly when as armed white vigilantes confronted demonstrators, resulting in the deaths of two people.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been arrested and charged with the murders after video footage emerged of him opening fire on protesters with a semiautomatic rifle.
Prosecutors will allege Rittenhouse shot his first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, in a used car lot after the man threw a plastic bag at him. Mr Rosenbaum allegedly tried to take Rittenhouse’s weapon from him.
Rittenhouse intends to argue self-defence.