The homeless man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers Sunday on skid row was a convicted bank robber who assumed the identity of a French man to enter the United States more than 15 years ago, according to records and interviews.
Axel Cruau, the French consul general in Los Angeles, told The Times the man identified as Charley Saturmin Robinet was not a French citizen. Rather, the man had stolen another man’s identity and gotten a French passport to come to the U.S. in the late-1990s, Cruau said.
“He fooled a lot of people, including us, years ago,” he said.
French officials discovered the identity theft after the man who called himself Robinet was convicted of a bank robbery in 2000 and U.S. officials were preparing to deport him. Cruau said French officials notified U.S. officials that Robinet was not the man’s real name, but said he did not know what happened after that.
The real Charley Saturmin Robinet “is alive and in France,” he said.
Law enforcement sources said Monday that police had identified Charley Saturmin Robinet as the man shot by officers during a confrontation Sunday that was captured on videotape.
The man was accused with others of robbing a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Ventura County.
According to federal court documents, he and an accomplice were armed, respectively, with a handgun and a rifle. They entered the bank from the rear and ordered everyone to the floor. He jumped over the counter and demanded money from a teller, then dragged the teller to the vault area. When the teller did not have the key to access the vault, the man pistol-whipped and kicked him, authorities said at the time.
Court records show the teller sustained bruises, rug burns and a cut on his head requiring stitches. The robber then forced the bank manager to open two vaults at gunpoint before placing cash in a bag. The pair and a getaway driver fled with authorities in high-speed pursuit.
Their SUV collided with a number of other vehicles before a spike strip placed across a roadway blew out its tires, enabling authorities to apprehend the trio. The man was captured after a foot pursuit along a Ventura beach promenade.
He was carrying $33,500, according to prosecutors.