Identity issues abound in Skid Row shooting case

Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn
At least two Los Angeles Police Department officers have had their personal information released on the internet, possibly in retaliation for the shooting of a homeless man on Skid Row. That man, known as Africa, may have stolen someone else’s identity.

The two LAPD officers are victims of what authorities call “doxxing”: Their private information, including their names, addresses and details about their kids’ schools, have been posted online. The police department will not confirm whether the targeted officers were involved in Sunday’s shooting of a homeless man on Skid Row, California-based radio station KCBS reported.

Doxxing is a technique made famous by Anonymous, a hacking collective of internet activists, during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

READ MORE:Video shows Skid Row man grabbed for gun that malfunctioned before being shot – LAPD

LA police officers ‒ including the LAPD chief ‒ have been doxxing targets before. In 2012, over 100 cops belonging to the Los Angeles County Police Canine Association had their addresses, names and phone numbers published, CNET reported. In 2013, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck’s financial information was leaked online, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But the LAPD officers are not the only ones involved in the case ‒ either directly or indirectly ‒ whose identities may be compromised.

READ MORE: CCTV footage of LAPD gunning down homeless man released

Police were responding to a robbery call around noon on Sunday on LA’s Skid Row when they started scuffling with two people. Video footage shows that, after two officers dragged one person away, others wrestled the second person to the ground. One of the officers is heard saying: “Drop the gun!” Approximately five shots can then be heard.

Police identified the man on Tuesday as 39-year-old Charley Saturmin Robinet, a French national, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the investigation. They used his fingerprints to connect him to a bank robbery in 2000 for which he was convicted. During the heist, Robinet pistol-whipped one of the tellers. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in a federal facility, but was released in May, according to online federal prison records.

However, witnesses said that the man, whom they called Africa, had recently been released from a psychiatric facility after spending 10 years there.

French authorities came forward Tuesday evening to deny that Africa and Robinet were the same person, saying that Robinet is a law-abiding citizen who is “alive and well in France,” the LA Times reported.

READ MORE:Protests over LAPD fatally shooting mentally ill homeless man

Africa, it seems, had stolen Robinet’s identity and used it to acquire a French passport in the 1990s, allowing him to enter the United States. The identity theft was discovered after the bank robbery, when officials began the paperwork to deport the man they believed to be Robinet, Axel Cruau, the French consul general in Los Angeles, told NYT. French officials notified US authorities, but did not appear to follow up on what happened with the identity thief.

Arnaud Guillois, the press counselor at the French Embassy in Washington, told ABC News that the homeless man killed on Skid Row “is not French.” French officials do not know the man’s nationality at this time, Guillois said.