Another Black man killed. Ten shots fired, said a neighbor.
The investigation is still under way but this is what I’ve read in the press.
Mr Kizzee, 29, is riding a bike when a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s patrol car observes that he is in violation of a vehicles code. When they attempt to stop him he runs away.
Black man on a bike in apparent violation of a vehicles code = probably can’t afford whatever it is he has to do to be in compliance.
He is not bothering anyone.
Blacks are very wary of police interventions, a legacy of years and years of injustice.
The two officers inside the patrol car as they observe Mr Kizzee riding his bike.
Officer 1 – there he is, breaking the law. Have to stop him.
Officer 2 – but should we? He’s not bothering anyone, probably barely scraping a living.
Officer 1 – an infraction is an infraction is an infraction.
Officer 2 – dude, in this climate, with people on the edge, with so many incidents, I say let it go. It’s nothing.
Officer 1 – what if he’s carrying a weapon?
Officer 2 – What if he is, he could just be transporting it from one place to the other, or he’s just needing it to feel secure, who knows?
Officer 1 – buddy, I don’t know about you but I didn’t sign up for this job to be a social worker, so we’re stopping this guy. Have to protect the community.
We know what happened next.
Mr Kizzee didn’t heed the call to stop, the officers chased him, then confronted him, Mr Kizzee reportedly struck one of them in the face (the officers were not carrying body cameras), ran off again, more chasing, Mr Kizzee drops a bundle of clothes he was carrying and it reveals a gun.
The officers shoot and kill him.
There’s a gap in there, right?
Yes. There is no mention of Mr Kizzee even reaching for the gun dropped with his clothes.
But shots were fired.
Ten shots. Not two four six or eight but Ten.
Just as a precaution. Right.
Something wrong there.
Yes. Recklessness. Impulsiveness.
Should Mr Kizzee have stopped when asked? Yes Yes Yes. By all means, stop when a policeman orders you to.
But there has to be a place for balanced judgment.
Life can’t be this cheap.
Mr Kizzee was a man. A poor man, likely. A Black man. The bike was probably the only means of transportation he could muster.
He deserved a little break.
How many people are moving around at this very moment in any city with a gun in their vehicles? Probably thousands. But they are not as poor as Mr Kizzee. They have that extra layer of protection that money gives them.
It is heartbreaking.
Yes, we need law and order, but we have to cut a little slack to those who are not making it.
Or to those who are likely to distrust the police. Or to those who may have poor judgment.
We need police, yes, but we need officers who think.
What happened to police leadership? With all that is happening in our nation today, did they not find it in themselves to take time to anticipate events, to take time to speak to the officers about exercising extra caution?
Ten shots. Ten. 10.
And Mr Kizzee wasn’t even holding a gun.
There’s something so wrong.
An investigation will follow, surely, and the officers will likely be absolved of any wrongdoing.
And Mr Kizzee’s life is lost.
He may not have been making any significant contribution to society but his was a life.
And that should be enough to command respect. Just that alone.
What cheapened his existence?
Let us stop. Think.
And may the name Kizzee forever prompt us to do so.
Which is why protests are justified.
And why looting and destruction of property are not.
Not, because to do so is to demean the loss of Mr Kizzee.
We don’t know at what stage of existence Mr Kizzee was but what is certain is that he didn’t need a bullet. Or ten.
He needed something else.
Can we remind ourselves of that?
To the officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department: we need you but, please, think and feel, for those that you shoot are your brothers and sisters. Sometimes flawed, as we all are, but still your brothers and sisters.
And fellow Americans.
Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for a Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.