We previously discussed the controversy over the shooting of a homeless man called “Africa” by the Los Angeles Police Department. It turns out that the man’s real name (well, the name he was using) was Charley Saturmin Robinet and he had a rather strange and violent past.
Police say that Robinet grabbed for one of their guns and refused to yield to their orders to drop the gun. It appears that at least one taser was used before the officers opened fire.
It turns out the the 30-year-old went by either “Africa” or “Cameroon” but was using the stolen name of a Frenchman that he used to get a passport to the United States. He came looking for an acting career in the late 1990s and took classes at the respected Beverly Hill Playhouse where George Clooney and Alex Baldwin attended. However, he could not afford the tuition and was later arrested for holding up a bank outside of Los Angeles. In the crime, he beat and pistol-whipped a teller. He was ultimately arrested after a car chase and he refused to plead guilty against the advice of his lawyer and was sentenced to 15 years. He was released in May 2014 and was shot dead less than a year later in the fight with police.
There is a real Robinet still living in France. What is interesting is that there was an initial effort to deport him but France said that he was not the real Robinet. There is no indication that the government proceeded with the deportation after that even though he clearly came from France. US immigration officials said he was called “Keunang” and was from Cameroon. Now here is the amazing thing. When Cameroon authorities did not respond to inquiries, he was let go despite being a violent illegal immigrant under controlling case law and regulations.
Obviously, this record does not mean that the shooting was justified. There still remains the question of whether he was holding a gun at the time of the shooting for example. There have been protests at the scene of the shooting and police are still reportedly investigating the matter though the initial comments of police officials appeared to support the account of the officers and use of lethal force.