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Man, 75, killed by police known as Bel-Air eccentric

Robert Bandler was the subject of many LAPD calls over the years, police say. He was shot after he ignored orders to drop his gun from police responding to reports of an assault on a utility worker.

November 18, 2013|By Ari Bloomekatz and Richard Winton

On this stretch of Stone Canyon Road in Bel-Air, Robert Bandler was known as "the color of the neighborhood."

He often wore fatigues and a military hat. He once crashed a wedding across the street. He ended some conversations by saying "over and out" and played historic war speeches late at night, loud enough for neighbors to hear.

Los Angeles police officers knew him well from numerous calls to the home for odd behavior. Officers who patrolled the area even gave him a nickname: "Crazy Bob."

"He was the talk of the neighborhood, he was the color of the neighborhood," said 73-year-old Stephen Verona, who lives across the street. "He called me 'the general.' "

Despite Bandler's eccentricities, neighbors said he was not violent — which is why they were surprised that LAPD officers killed the 75-year-old man early Sunday while responding to his home.

Bandler allegedly pointed a handgun at officers and refused their commands to drop it, police said.

The deadly incident unfolded shortly before 3:30 a.m., when Bandler allegedly confronted a utility worker checking out the smell of gas coming from his home. The worker reported that he had been assaulted and threatened with a handgun, police said.

When officers arrived, Bandler displayed a handgun and refused to cooperate with police, LAPD spokesman Richard French said. "An officer-involved shooting then occurred. He died of the gunshot wound."

Several neighbors reported hearing only one gunshot.

French said no officers were injured in the confrontation at the two-story home in the 1200 block of Stone Canyon Road.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Monday that Bandler had been the subject of previous calls because of his odd behavior. Police also acknowledged that Bandler was known to officers who patrolled the Stone Canyon neighborhood over the years.

Neighbors maintain that Bandler was not a violent person.

"He always was a strange man, he had things that he did," said Norma Fink, 88, adding that he wasn't "anyone that would hurt anybody."

"I'm really sad about it. We all are," she said.

Verona questioned whether the shooting could have been avoided.

"I just think that this man had issues and I think the police knew he had issues," he said.

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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