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LA County Coroner's Autopsy: Dijon Kizzee Shot 16 Times, At Least Five From Behind

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A protest against the killing of Dijon Kizzee. (Josie Huang/LAist)

The L.A. County Coroner has released its autopsy of Dijon Kizzee, 29, who was shot and killed by two Sheriff’s deputies on Aug. 31.

The autopsy details 16 gunshot wounds, with at least five sustained from behind. “The rapidly fatal injuries include trauma to the heart, lungs, liver and left kidney,” according to the report. The coroner could not determine the direction of one bullet.

The Sheriff's Department had initially placed a security hold on the autopsy, but it lifted it last week, according to the coroner's spokeswoman. The autopsy wasn' finalized until Thursday.

An independent autopsy performed for the Kizzee family found Kizzee was shot 15 times, with seven of those wounds sustained from behind.

The Sheriff's Department says the deputies fired 19 shots at Kizzee.

Kizzee family attorney Dale Galipo said:

“The official autopsy report confirms the findings of the private autopsy and confirms our theory of the case: that there were too many shots fired and ... many of the shots were fired at the decedent from his rear."

He also said the autopsy supports the idea of “contagious fire,” when one person shooting leads others to do the same.

The deputies had tried to stop Kizzee for allegedly riding his bicycle against traffic. Surveillance video nearby captured some of what happened next. Neither deputy was wearing a body camera; the department is just beginning to outfit the first deputies with cameras this month.

As Kizzee ran away, one deputy caught up to him and they scuffled. The deputies at first said they opened fire when Kizzee “made a motion” towards a gun he had dropped. Later the department said they started shooting when they saw Kizzee pick up the gun.

Kizzee family spokesman Najee Ali vigorously disputed that account, saying "there's no tape or evidence" to show Kizzee had picked up the gun.

"Dijon may have indeed had a weapon, but there's a difference between having a weapon in your possession and having a weapon pointed at Sheriff's deputies," Ali said.

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City Council Committee Backs Pilot Program For Unarmed Crisis Response

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A protester holds a sign reading “Defund the Police” while marching in protest of the death of Dijon Kizzee in Westmont, South Los Angeles. (Brian Feinzimer/LAist)

Too often, when armed police officers respond to people in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, the situation can escalate to violence.

Community groups in L.A. have long been pushing to remove law enforcement from that equation.

Today the city took a step toward that goal. The City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform recommended starting a search for nonprofit partners who can operate a pilot program for unarmed crisis response units.

These would be mental health or social workers who can be dispatched to non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls in place of the LAPD.

Pastor Byron Smith with Community Coalition called in to the special meeting to voice support:

“Police must be removed from mental health responses. Because they’re operating outside of their scope of practice."

L.A. is now looking to mirror a longstanding program in Eugene, Oregon where teams of health professionals respond to 17% of calls for service and operate 24/7.

While the Los Angeles police have special units for responding to mental health and domestic violence, those pair armed officers with service providers.

READ THE FULL STORY:

California Was Supposed To Release Guidelines For Reopening Theme Parks Friday. That Didn't Happen.

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The Nighttime Lights at Universal Studios' Hogwarts Castle. (Hamilton Pytluk/Universal Studios Hollywood)

As recently as Thursday, the governor’s office said that long-awaited theme park reopening guidelines were expected to be released Friday. But that's not happening.

Theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios can’t reopen until the state issues COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for how they can reopen — right now, there are no rules they can follow in any of the tiers.

The state appeared ready to release those guidelines today, but the theme park industry wasn’t happy with their draft and pushed back, delaying the release further.

Industry representatives say the state needs to be more reasonable.

"While we are aligned on many of the protocols and health and safety requirements, there are many others that need to be modified if they are to lead to a responsible and reasonable amusement park reopening plan," California Attractions and Parks Association executive director Erin Guerrero said in a statement. "Fighting this virulent disease and responsibly reopening amusement parks to get people back to work, kickstart local economic recovery, and provide families with outdoor activity need not be mutually exclusive."

Conversations with industry representatives are ongoing, according to state health officials.

"Our Blueprint for a Safer Economy is driven by data and science to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission low, and this upcoming guidance will be no exception," California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement. "Given the size and operational complexities of these unique sectors, we are seeking additional input from health, workforce and business stakeholders to finalize this important framework — all leading with science and safety."

The stakes are high. Just this week, Disney announced the layoffs of 28,000 Parks employees in California and Florida, including some part-time, salaried, and executive employees. The company partially blamed the layoffs on California's "unwillingness to lift restrictions."

Disney had called on the state to let Disneyland and California Adventure reopen in a video update last week. Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger also left Gov. Newsom's economic recovery task force, following the announcement of the layoffs.

State lawmakers from both parties sent Newsom a letter earlier this week asking for theme parks to be allowed to reopen. They noted that theme parks operate largely outdoors.

The guidelines had previously been delayed for months following Black Lives Matter protests and a rise in COVID-19 cases.

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Alliance Between Hong Kongers And Uyghurs Carries Over To LA

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Uyghurs joined Hong Kongers and activists from other diaspora communities fighting Chinese repression. (Josie Huang/LAist)

In Los Angeles, groups fighting oppression by the Chinese government held a unity event outside the Chinese consulate in Koreatown.

Hong Kongers and Uyghurs were among the 150 or so people who gathered across the street from the Chinese consulate Thursday evening to condemn its government’s human rights record.

The protesters picked Thursday because it was China’s National Day, a celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Says Gabriel Law of the group Hong Kong Forum-LA: "We believe that a regime that has total disregard for human rights, freedom, and violations of so many things should not be celebrated."

No one in the consulate's press affairs office could not be reached for comment.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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2020 Census Must Continue To October 31, Judge Clarifies

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The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California ordered the Trump administration to continue the census past Sept. 30, she didn’t mean only five days past it.

But on Monday this week, the Census Bureau released a single-sentence tweet identifying Oct. 5 as a new deadline.

That's not going to happen. Today Judge Koh called the government's decision an egregious violation of her order from last week. So now, the judge is making herself clear: the counting must continue through October 31, just like the Census Bureau had previously planned.

Judge Koh is ordering the Census Bureau to text its employees today informing them about the extension. Once those texts are sent, she wants to see proof filed with the court.

The judge is presiding over a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs that include the City of Los Angeles against the Trump administration, which last month abruptly moved the census end date up to the end of September. The city has argued that ending the census early would lead to an undercount, especially in L.A.'s many hard-to-count communities.

READ MORE:

MORE ON THE CENSUS:

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

LA Health Officials Push Masks But Hold Back On Cracking Down

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A sign reminding people the fine for not wearing a mask can be as much as $350 is seen by the pier last month in Manhattan Beach. (Chris Delmas / AFP via Getty Images)

From California to Florida, wearing a mask (or neglecting to) has become political shorthand for how seriously you are taking the pandemic.

Meanwhile, scientists are warning of a larger wave of coronavirus infections this winter. They agree the simplest, easiest way to fight that surge is to get most people to wear masks most of the time. But enforcement of mandated masks and face coverings is all over the map.

Face coverings have been required in California since June, but so far Los Angeles public health officials have largely shied away from stringent enforcement.

L.A.’s top public health official, Dr. Muntu Davis, told reporters recently:

"One of the things in all of this is, we’re not going to enforce or fine our way out of this."

READ THE FULL STORY

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More Rape Charges For Harvey Weinstein In LA

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Harvey Weinstein. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Harvey Weinstein sits in prison near Buffalo, having been sentenced in New York earlier this year to 23 years for rape and sexual assault. Now, the disgraced mogul will have an opportunity to leave his cell: to face even more charges in Los Angeles.

L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has added six more charges to Weinstein’s felony complaint, claiming he raped and sexually assaulted two women in Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2010.

Altogether, Weinstein is facing 11 counts in L.A. — including rape, sexual penetration by use of force, sexual battery and forcible oral copulation — involving five women. If he’s convicted on all counts, the maximum sentence is life in prison.

Lacey first filed four charges against Weinstein in January, as his New York trial was commencing, accusing him of raping and sexually assaulting two women in 2013.

She added a fifth count in April, charging Weinstein with sexual battery in an incident involving another woman in 2010.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

More than 100 women, many of them young actresses who believed Weinstein was interested in their careers, have said they were sexually assaulted or raped by Weinstein following the publication of stories about him in The New Yorker and The New York Times three years ago.

“I am thankful to the first women who reported these crimes and whose courage have given strength to others to come forward,” Lacey said in a statement today. “The willingness of these latest victims to testify against a powerful man gives us the additional evidence we need to build a compelling criminal case.”

Weinstein’s spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, told Variety that Weinstein’s lawyers are looking into the new charges.

“Harvey Weinstein has always maintained that every one of his physical encounters throughout his entire life have been consensual. That hasn’t changed,” Engelmayer said. “At this moment we cannot comment on the additional charges until we learn more about them.”

READ THE AMENDED COMPLAINT

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Surviving The Endless Waves: When One Family's American Dreams Failed To Come True

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Judy Jean Kwon in Korea with her grandmother and younger sister, date and location unknown. (Courtesy Judy Jean Kwon)

Judy Jean Kwon was born in Los Angeles but spent much of her childhood in Korea, where she and her younger sister lived with their grandmother.

Life was stable until her grandmother decided to move with the children to the U.S., so that they could be with their parents and the family could live together.

But after her parents' marriage faltered, and her father and grandmother faced an increasing set of struggles, the dreams that Kwon and her family had fell apart.

Los Angeles became the place "where everything was to be taken from me," Kwon writes. "Like a wave that crashes down to take you under, one after another, with barely enough time to breathe in between the tides."

In a series of recollections, Kwon recounts what her family lost in America — and what it's taken for her to claim some of it back.

READ THE ESSAY:

MORE FROM OUR RACE IN LA SERIES

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7 Months Later, LAUSD Leader Wields Emergency Powers To Respond To COVID-19

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Over the summer, when the Los Angeles Unified School District created its own COVID-19 testing program, the news generated so much national buzz that you might not have noticed: the school board never voted to approve the program.

That’s because LAUSD’s school board delegated emergency powers to Superintendent Austin Beutner. The board’s vote gave him the authority to approve fast-track deals — including the contract that launched the testing program: a $51.3 million contract with start-up lab company SummerBio.

To Beutner, these emergency powers have been critical to LAUSD’s pandemic response, allowing district officials to launch meal distribution sites, hand out laptops and internet hotspots … and seal the deal to create the COVID-19 screening program.

“We wouldn’t have SummerBio if we had to go through the traditional process. There’s no chance … Start-up companies don’t do business with big bureaucracies.”

No other L.A. County school superintendent currently has the same kind of emergency powers to enter no-bid and single-source contracts that Beutner now wields, according to the L.A. County Office of Education.

And while most LAUSD board members have praised how Beutner has used his emergency powers, some also wonder how long he can continue to wield them.

READ OUR FULL STORY:

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SoCal’s Newest Landmark Opens To (Ceremonial) Traffic

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Two cable towers along the long beach portion of the new bridge. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge (yes, that’s its unwieldy name until the Legislature picks a new one) gets its big, covid-exclusive opening party today.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will oversee the ribbon-cutting honors along with port executives. There will be fireworks, a boat parade, and vintage airplanes flying overhead.

The opening ceremony is at 10 a.m., but because of the pandemic, the event will be just virtual. The Port of Long Beach will broadcast it live online at POLB.com.

A grand caravan of 30 classic cars and zero-emission vehicles will make the first official crossing of the cable-stayed bridge. It’s designed so the weight of the bridge platform is held up by cables attached to two 500-foot towers.

Those cables will be lit up in pretty colors at night, and holiday colors for special events. Maybe Dodger Blue as we go into the playoffs.

Traffic on some streets around the Port of Long Beach will be closed Saturday and Sunday as workers remove the last barriers to ramps leading to the new bridge.

By early Monday, the bridge will start carrying cars and trucks across the channel from Long Beach to Terminal Island.

Once it’s open to the public, the bridge has ramps from the 710 Freeway and Ocean Blvd. on the Long Beach side, and from Highway 47 on the Terminal Island side.

The new bridge is 50-feet taller than the old one, which means that taller ships will be able to access the inner Port of Long Beach. It’s also longer, so the climb to get to the top of the bridge is not as steep.

But you can’t drive across it yourself until Monday, when it opens to the public and becomes the tail end of the 710 Freeway.

The bridge has a separate protected lane for cycling and walking, but it will open up later, once safe connections are built.

GO DEEPER

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Morning Briefing: How LA’s Homeless System Is Failing

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A homeless encampment on First Street in downtown L.A. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Good morning, L.A.

Halcyon Selfmade has lived in L.A. for several years, ever since his family in Tennessee rejected him for coming out as transgender. During most of these recent years, Hal and his partner have been unhoused.

In a profile, Matt Tinoco examines the failed system that left them behind. In large part, Matt writes, the problem is that the city doesn’t have enough inexpensive housing:

“The amount of low-income housing actually available is far eclipsed by the number of people who need help [resulting in] a homeless services system that staffs thousands to get people who are already homeless ‘ready’ to move into housing, but struggles to rehouse them before more people end up on the street.”

This is just one of the reasons that the current pay-to-play scandal at City Hall is so atrocious. As people like Hal waited for apartments they can afford, some City Council members allegedly took bribes to ensure that such units were never created.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 2

In a series of recollections, Judy Jean Kwon reflects on what she lost when her family brought her to the U.S. from Korea -- and what it’s taken to reclaim at least part of her past.

Sharon McNary reports on upcoming road closures in Long Beach, as workers connect ramps of the 710 Freeway to the area’s shiny new bridge. Meanwhile, LAist contributor Melissa Chadburn has the story of how Angeles Crest Creamery founder Gloria Putnam is regrouping after her ice cream shop was scorched by the Bobcat Fire.

LAUSD has spent more than $210 million in emergency funds to deal with the coronavirus. Kyle Stokes breaks down the spending and examines the potential long term effects of Superintendent. Austin Beutner’s extraordinary authority.

Dana Amihere reports on how special education funding that’s determined through the census is needed to fill opportunity gaps for students from low-income homes, and Caroline Champlin examines the potential consequences for L.A. and California of the Trump administration’s effort to remove undocumented immigrants from the final census tally.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A. Communities: Will the shooting of two sheriff's deputies provide an opportunity to start mending ruptured relations between law enforcement and some communities they serve, or exacerbate the tension? L.A.’s piecemeal homeless system often leaves those in great need to fend for themselves.

Bills, Bills, Bills: Gov. Gavin Newsom had until Sept. 30 to decide whether to sign or reject a raft of bills from the California legislature – here’s how they played out.

Census 2020: Along with political power and representation, billions of dollars in federal funding for Pell grants, special education and school breakfast and lunch programs are at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census.

Coronavirus in L.A.: SummerBio is the start-up lab company behind LAUSD's plan to regularly test all students and staff for COVID-19, and new information reveals what the district has spent with them so far.

Local Landmarks: The kitschy, slightly rundown, Bavarian-themed Alpine Village complex is L.A. County's latest official landmark.

Here’s What To Do: Celebrate Mortified's new game at a storytelling night, check out Dublab's 21st birthday, ease into the weekend with a Grand Park session, and more at this week’s best online and IRL events.


Photo Of The Day

Wheelchair-bound Halcyon Selfmade is pushed by a man at a recent protest against homeless sweeps in Hollywood.

(Matt Tinoco/LAist)

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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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