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LA Sheriff Requests ‘Security Hold’ on Dijon Kizzee Autopsy

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Dijon Kizzee. (Courtesy of the Kizzee family)
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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has requested a “security hold” on the autopsy of Dijon Kizzee, the man shot and killed by two L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies last month, according to the coroner’s office.

A security hold typically means the autopsy is not released to the public until after law enforcement has concluded its investigation. Detectives worry that releasing the information in the midst of their investigation could taint witnesses’ stories.

The security hold could spark more controversy in a case that has touched off nightly protests. The Sheriff’s Department says the deputies opened fire at Kizzee on Aug. 31 after a foot chase that ended with him tussling with one deputy and dropping a gun on the ground. The department says the deputies started shooting when Kizzee “made a motion” for the gun. Video from a nearby surveillance camera is inconclusive about that claim, because a wall partially blocks the camera's view.

The autopsy became the focus of a dispute last week between Inspector General Max Huntsman and Sheriff Alex Villanueva, when Huntsman accused the Sheriff’s Department of not informing him when the autopsy was occurring. The sheriff called Huntman's comments "inflammatory," adding that his department "doesn't have the authority or control" to decide who attends an autopsy.

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It happens very rarely, but the coroner can override a security hold. That’s what happened in July, when Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas took the highly unusual step of overriding the security hold the Sheriff’s Department had placed on the autopsy of Andres Guardado, the 18-year-old fatally shot June 18 by a deputy in Gardena.

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