L.A. Now

Bel-Air man killed by LAPD was eccentric, not violent, neighbors say

On this stretch of Stone Canyon Road in Bel-Air, Robert Bandler was known as “the color of the neighborhood.”

He often wore fatigues and a military hat. He once crashed a wedding across the street. Ended some conversations by saying “over and out” and played historic war speeches late at night, loud enough for neighbors to hear.

Los Angeles police officers knew him well from numerous call-outs to the home for odd behavior. Officers who patrolled the area even gave him a nickname: “Crazy Bob.”

“He was the talk of the neighborhood, he was the color of the neighborhood,” said 73-year-old Stephen Verona, who lives across the street. “He called me the general.”

Despite his eccentricities, neighbors said Bandler was not violent — which is why they were surprised that LAPD officers shot and killed the 75-year-old man early Sunday morning while responding to his home.

Bandler allegedly pointed a handgun at officers and refused their commands to drop it, police said.

The deadly incident unfolded shortly before 3:30 a.m. when Bandler allegedly confronted a utility worker checking out the smell of gas coming from his home. The worker reported he had been “assaulted” and threatened with a handgun, police said.

When officers arrived, Bandler “displayed a handgun” and refused to cooperate with police, said LAPD spokesman Richard French. “An officer-involved shooting then occurred. He died of the gunshot wound.”

Several neighbors reported only hearing one gunshot.

French said no officers were injured in the confrontation at the two-story home in the 1200 block of Stone Canyon Road.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith on Monday said Bandler had been the subject of call-outs before because of his odd behavior. Police also acknowledged that “Crazy Bob” was known to officers who had patrolled the Stone Canyon neighborhood over the years.

Neighbors maintain that Bandler was not a violent person.

“He always was a strange man, he had things that he did,” said 88-year-old Norma Fink, adding that he wasn’t “anyone that would hurt anybody.”

“I’m really sad about it, we all are,” she said.

Verona questioned whether or not the shooting could have been avoided.

“I just think that this man had issues and I think the police knew he had issues,” he said.


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