Man shot dead by LAPD on skid row was convicted bank robber
The 39-year-old man shot dead by Los Angeles police officers on skid row Sunday was convicted 15 years ago of an armed robbery at a Thousand Oaks bank and sent to federal prison, according to records and law enforcement sources.
Two sources familiar with the investigation identified the homeless man as Charley Saturmin Robinet. Thus far, the coroner’s office has said only that he is a 39-year-old man.
In 2000, Robinet, described as a French national, 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. Robinet 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, Robinet 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. Robinet 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 the roadway blew out its tires, enabling authorities to apprehend the trio. Robinet was captured after a foot pursuit along a Ventura beach promenade.
He was carrying $33,500, according to prosecutors.
During his initial interviews with investigators, Robinet said he robbed the bank to cover the cost of acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, authorities said.
Federal records show he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Robinet was released from a federal facility in May 2014, according to online federal prison records.
Federal court documents filed when Robinet was imprisoned in 2000 said he suffered from unspecified mental health issues.
In July 2003, while at the Federal Medical Center in Minnesota, a psychiatrist determined he suffered from a “mental disease or defect for which he requires treatment” in a psychiatric hospital.
But Robinet refused to be transferred to an in-patient mental health unit at the prison, which specializes in medical or mental health care. So in January 2005, federal prosecutors petitioned the court to order that he be hospitalized. The records do not reveal Robinet’s specific condition. The petition was withdrawn after Robinet agreed to hospitalization, records show.
The LAPD has said Sunday’s shooting occurred after officers responded to a 911 call about a robbery. The department said the man fought the officers and was shot after grabbing a probationary officer’s holstered pistol.
On Monday, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said footage from body cameras worn by an officer and a sergeant involved in the shooting gave investigators a “unique perspective” of the incident. But, citing the ongoing investigation, he said the footage couldn’t yet be released publicly.
The chief declined to comment on what exactly the body camera recordings showed.
“At the end of the investigation into this officer-involved shooting ... we will release the complete investigation through the inspector general’s office,” Beck said. “If there is a criminal proceeding in this or if there’s a civil proceeding in this, we will make all evidence available through those proceedings.”
The sources said the body camera footage supported events depicted in the civilian-captured video of Sunday’s shooting, which drew millions of views after it was posted on Facebook. An enhanced version of that video reviewed by the Los Angeles Times showed the man’s arm reach toward an officer’s waistband.
Law enforcement sources said one of the body camera recordings captured the start of the incident, when officers initially approached the man’s tent. One source said the man is seen running inside the tent, at which point the officers tell him to show them his hands and come out of the tent.
At one point, one of the sources said, the man began running toward the officers, flailing his arms. He can also be seen in the video spinning around, the source said.
One source said an officer is heard on the body camera video shouting, “He’s got my gun,” multiple times. The footage then shows the officers pulling away from the man as though his actions posed a threat, the sources said.
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