Friends and relatives of a man shot dead by an off-duty officer say they cannot believe allegations that he was attempting to rob the officer in a deserted West Hollywood parking lot.
More than two dozen mourners gathered late Tuesday night at the scene where 25-year-old Maziar Badie was shot five times by Los Angeles Police Officer Edward Stepanian just before 4 a.m. Monday.
Friends laid flowers, lighted candles and placed posters with slogans memorializing Badie.
"We're just so angry and frustrated," said friend Medhi Sina, 23. "We're all looking for the truth."
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators said Stepanian told them Badie and another man attempted to rob him.
They were wielding at least one "metallic weapon" during a confrontation at the lot in the 1300 block of Crescent Heights Boulevard, said Deputy Richard Pena. Investigators would not describe the weapon further.
Stepanian, whose reason for being in the parking lot at that hour is still unclear, acted in self-defense, authorities said.
Investigators are awaiting the results of forensic and ballistic tests, and also are completing interviews with witnesses, said Sheriff's Lt. Larry Lincoln.
"It's a homicide investigation, but that doesn't mean criminal homicide," he said.
Stepanian could not be reached for comment.
Police said Badie had no criminal record. Relatives said he never carried a weapon and had no reason to rob someone--money is not a problem for the Badie family, friends said.
Badie, who was born in Iran, lived in Northridge with his parents, sister and a niece. He graduated from Taft High School in 1993.
He had enrolled in a computer-programming course, his family said.
Friends said he had a girlfriend of three years whom he intended to marry.
"He wanted to be a family man, just like his father," said Val Lauren, a friend who had known Badie since childhood.
In accordance with standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, Stepanian is on administrative duty and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation today, said an LAPD spokesman.
Because the shooting occurred in West Hollywood, county sheriff's investigators are handling the case, but the LAPD is conducting its own administrative investigation, also standard for officer-involved shootings.
The third man involved in the case, whom authorities would not identify, was questioned and released.