As dusk fell over the Westlake District in Central Los Angeles, several dozen mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil near the spot where a 35-year-old man was shot dead by police during a foot chase that started when officers reportedly saw him with a gun.
Giovanni Luna was walking near the intersection of Sixth Street and Rampart Boulevard about 3:20 a.m. Saturday when the pursuit began, police said. The chase ended half a block away in a hail of police bullets.
On Wednesday, about 20 of Luna’s family members and friends returned to the spot, huddling over a makeshift memorial of votive candles arranged in the shape of a heart. A large photo of Luna hung over the candles. His brother moved solemnly through the crowd of mourners with tear-streaked faces, passing out flowers.
He handed one to Patricia Guevara, Luna’s former girlfriend, who attended the vigil with their 14-year-old daughter, Starla Luna. Guevara said losing Luna was difficult enough, but in recent days she found herself fighting to get answers from police about the circumstances around his death.
“I want LAPD to take accountability for murdering him,” she said.
But, she has tried to put on a brave face in front of their daughter, who more than once has broken down at home remembering her dad.
Luna, Guevara said, worked odd jobs to make ends meet, most recently doing private security for a TikTok influencer, whose name she couldn’t immediately recall. He was also a doting father, she added: “His daughter was his everything.”
Frustration crept into her voice as she began discussing the incident and officers’ delay in providing aid after shooting Luna. Grainy cellphone video of its aftermath showed Luna’s body lying on the sidewalk, as officers stood watching from several feet away.
Under Los Angeles Police Department policy, officers are required to provide aid to people they’ve just shot, but in practice they routinely wait several minutes before approaching, and then focus on handcuffing and searching them.
Another video recorded by a neighbor shows two officers running down the middle of the street with guns drawn yelling at Luna to “drop it,” before opening fire. The brief recording doesn’t show Luna, who is obscured by a tree. After firing several shots, the officers are seen moving toward Luna.
Guevara questioned the need to use deadly force in the first place, saying that, despite their de-escalation training, officers seem quick to use their weapons — and later claim they feared for their lives. Guevara said that, in her job as a nurse at an area hospital, she is regularly confronted with unruly patients, some of whom are armed. But, she said, she is expected to try to resolve the situation peacefully.
“I’ll tell you what: If [someone] tried to pull a knife on me, and I punched them, guess who loses their license? Me. Because I’m a trained professional,” she said.
Other friends said Luna had struggled with his mental health in the past, which sometimes made him prone to angry outbursts and had led to several previous run-ins with law enforcement. In June, he reportedly led California Highway Patrol officers on a chase that ended when the black 2007 Mercedes he was driving crashed on Highway 134 and burst into flames.
Luna suffered a fractured skull and other injuries that doctors at the time deemed to be life-threatening, but he was later discharged, friends said.
On Saturday, officers on patrol were waiting at a red light when they heard gunfire and saw a man, later identified as Luna, running past them, holding a handgun, Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday.
Believing they were being fired on, the officers confronted Luna and shot at him, Moore said. It is not clear whether he was struck by the first volley of bullets. Luna then ran north on Rampart, and officers chased him on foot; they caught up to him about half a block away in a mostly residential area and shot him a second time, killing him.
The Police Department’s account could not be independently verified.
There were no other injuries, although mourners at the vigil maintained that at least one of the rounds fired by police had sailed into a nearby apartment building.
The LAPD planned a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at La Fayette Park Community Center to discuss the incident.
As with most fatal police shootings, it is under investigation by the department’s Force Investigation Division. The investigation’s findings will be reviewed by Moore and the civilian-run commission; such reviews can take up to a year.
In most cases, the department releases video from police body cameras or security cameras within 45 days of an incident.