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Coroner to conduct shooting inquests


The Board of Supervisors this week voted unanimously to instruct the county coroner to conduct inquests into the 2020 fatal deputy shootings of three men.

Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis co-authored the motion recommending the inquests into the shooting deaths of 47-year-old Dana “Malik” Young Jr., 41-year-old Samuel Herrera Jr. and 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee.

Mitchell said the point of the inquests was to ensure that the investigation into the deaths was appropriately conducted and to give the families of the men killed a clearer sense of what happened.

“We do not know what happened during the course of these investigations and how they were conducted,” Mitchell said. “The Office of Inspector General was not allowed to monitor every step… and so concerns remain about their integrity given the lack of true, comprehensive, independent oversight.”

County Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas has already ruled each death a homicide and in all three cases determined that the cause of death was gunshot wounds.

The District Attorney’s Office has all three cases under review to determine whether the shootings were a lawful use of force, according to a DA’s spokesman.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva accused Mitchell and Solis of “misleading the public” and “trying to sell the idea that somehow (these men) were unjustly murdered by sheriff’s deputies” as part of a political attack.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger pointed to remarks by a cousin of Kizzee, who cried out to the board during public comment, saying her family deserved to know why her cousin was shot 16 times. If the shooting was justified, the sheriff should be willing to cooperate, Barger said.