LAPD delays identifying officers in fatal skid row shooting
Los Angeles police officials said Wednesday they would not release the names of the officers involved in a fatal shooting on skid row until they determine whether there are any credible threats to the officers’ safety.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the sergeant and two officers who shot at a homeless man on Sunday had never before fired their weapons while on duty during their combined 25 years with the LAPD.
FOR THE RECORD
A previous version of this post said the rookie officer had less than a year’s experience on the force. The officer has less than one year of experience in the field.
The sergeant and two officers were assigned to the Safer Cities Initiative, a task force focused on downtown L.A.'s skid row. Smith said the sergeant had spent eight years with the LAPD; the two officers 11 years and 6 years.
A rookie officer, who has less than a year’s experience in the field, was recovering from an injury he sustained during the struggle before the shooting, Smith said, declining to elaborate.
Smith said top department officials received their initial briefing on the altercation Wednesday, after which Chief Charlie Beck decided the officers involved could return to administrative duties, out of the field.
Smith said their names would not be released until the department had completed its evaluation of any threats made against them.
The California Supreme Court ruled last year that police departments must generally provide the names of officers involved in shootings, unless they can demonstrate there are credible threats to the officers’ safety.
Sunday’s killing drew international attention after a bystander recorded video of the shooting and posted it on Facebook.
The shooting has highlighted the difficulties police say they face in patrolling skid row, where many inhabitants struggle with mental illness and drug abuse. But it has also reignited anger from those living in the tent encampments and their advocates, who say police tactics are too aggressive.
The man killed was known by others on skid row as “Africa” or “Cameroon.” Authorities used his fingerprints to identify him as Charley Saturmin Robinet, a man convicted of robbing a bank in Thousand Oaks in 2000.
But on Tuesday, French officials said Robinet was “alive and well in France.” The man killed by police had stolen Robinet’s identity and used it to acquire a French passport to come to the United States in the late 1990s.
Federal immigration officials said Wednesday that the man was a Cameroonian national, but provided no other details about the man’s identity.
Follow @katemather for more coverage of the fatal LAPD shooting on skid row.
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