The 39-year-old man killed on L.A.’s Skid Row this week was called “Africa” or “Cameroon” or “Charley Saturmin Robinet” but no one seems to know his real name. What is known is that the name Charley Saturmin Robinet was actually the name of a Frenchman whose identification was stolen and which “Africa” used to get a French passport and then travel to the U.S. in the 1990s in the hopes of becoming a movie star.
Once he arrived in Los Angeles, he took drama classes where George Clooney had once studied. But when he could no longer pay for the lessons in 2000, he robbed a bank.
Wearing a ski mask and armed with a gun, the man burst into a Wells Fargo Bank and ordered everyone down on the floor. He jumped the counter and demanded money from a teller. He dragged the bank teller to the vault, and when the teller didn’t have the key to open it, he pistol-whipped and kicked him, court documents state.
After forcing a bank manager at gunpoint to open two vaults, the man and an accomplice grabbed the cash and jumped in a getaway car.
“I recall that case quite well – it was quite straightforward,” said Steven Cron, his lawyer at the time. “Several guys broke into a bank and left with a stash of money. They were followed by the law enforcement agencies, there was a car chase, and then they used a ‘stinger’ – a line of nails – on the motorway.
“If I remember rightly he said that he needed the cash to pay for his acting lessons.”
He refused to plead guilty – against the advice of his lawyer – and was sentenced to 15 years. He was released in May 2014.
At some point after he was released, he took up residence in front of a mission while living in a tent and apparently earned a reputation brought on by mental illness. He died on the sidewalk in front of this same mission.
The head of the rescue mission told Reuters on Monday that the man had been living in a tent outside the mission for weeks and had a history of violent, erratic behaviour. He had apparently been treated for mental illness while in prison.
Authorities were apparently notified that “Africa” was not really Charley Saturmin Robinet or a French citizen back in 2000 when French authorities were prepping to deport him back to France. They notified U.S. authorities but never heard back after that.
However, he abandoned that identity once he was released in 2014.
James Attaway, 48, who slept near the man in the street, said he used the first name “Shawn” and told him he had family in Boston.
Literally no one knows who this man actually was. The video is included below. It is a graphic video.