Protests over police killing of LA homeless man

2015-03-04 08:07
Charley Saturmin Robinet after his arrest for robbery. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, AP)

Charley Saturmin Robinet after his arrest for robbery. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, AP)

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Los Angeles - Angry protesters hit the streets of Los Angeles on Tuesday demanding justice, two days after graphic video footage that went viral showed police shooting dead a homeless man.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) headquarters to protest Sunday's killing, the latest in a spate of fatal shootings of African Americans at the hands of police officers.

The Los Angeles Times, citing law-enforcement records named the victim as 39-year-old Charley Saturmin Robinet and said he was convicted of armed robbery 15 years ago and jailed.

The man, shot dead after a struggle with police in the city's Skid Row homeless district was known locally as "Africa" and police have not released his name.

He was caught with $33 500 while attempting to flee the scene of a robbery, later telling authorities he robbed the bank to pay for acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, the newspaper reported.

He was freed in May, the LA Times said.

It initially identified him as a French national, but the foreign ministry in Paris denied that.

Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck said on Monday that the victim tried to grab a gun from one of four officers who were trying to restrain him.

The video of the killing triggered widespread criticism of police tactics.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, chief Beck's got to go!" chanted the protesters at LAPD headquarters.

"Who's accountable? Is it a mentally challenged individual or poorly trained officers?" asked K W Tulloss, the Los Angeles chapter head of the Al Sharpton-led National Action Network.

Steve Diaz, a member of poverty lobby group the Los Angeles Community Action Network, urged a police commission that was meeting to prosecute the officers involved.

He called the shooting a "modern-day lynching" that was the result of a policy "of having extra deployment in our neighborhood and nothing better to do than to target homeless individuals, people of low income, in the name of gentrification."

A spokesman for the LA County Coroner's office declined to confirm the identity of the victim, pending notification of next of kin.

He added that an autopsy was being carried out on Tuesday to determine the cause of death.

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