A homeless man shot dead by officials from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Sunday had an active arrest warrant for violating probation in a bank robbery case, according to reports. The warrant was issued against the man in January, after he failed to report to a probation officer in the preceding three months, Time magazine reported, citing Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Cordova.
The man was also accused of stealing the identity of Charley Saturmin Robinet, a French citizen, and was reportedly living under this name, according to a law enforcement official. The man had reportedly applied for a French passport in the late 1990s, hoping to "pursue a career in acting," The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing the consul general for France in Los Angeles. He was convicted in 2000 of robbing a Wells Fargo bank, as a French national, and for pistol-whipping an employee to pay for acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Authorities had sought support from the French consulate following his arrest and discovered that the real Robinet was living in France, AP reported.
"The real Charley Robinet is in France apparently living a totally normal life and totally unaware his identity had been stolen years and years ago," Axel Cruau, the consul general for France in Los Angeles, said, according to AP.
The homeless man was determined to be suffering from "a mental disease or defect" that required treatment from a psychiatric hospital, and he was assigned to a mental health unit when he was in jail in Rochester, Minnesota, AP reported, citing documents.
LAPD officials have claimed that the man reached for an officer's gun during the incident, which was captured on video by Anthony Blackburn, an eyewitness, who questioned why four officers could not control a homeless man, or just "shoot the man in the leg," CNN reported. Blackburn added that he did not see the man reaching for a gun, as claimed by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who cited a screenshot from a private video.
"This is an extreme tragedy. We feel great compassion in the LAPD for people who live in conditions of homelessness, and often mental illness, with no treatment. We prepare our officers to deal as best they can with them, but the reality is this is much more than a problem that the police alone can solve," Beck said, according to CNN, adding: "I think that this is an awful tragedy, but the officers took -- on the face of it -- reasonable steps to avoid it. Had the individual not grabbed the officer's pistol, certainly we would not be having this discussion."