Crime & Justice

East Hollywood man killed by LAPD suffered from mental illness, wife says

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

Marcelo Luna was off his psychiatric medication and had just quarreled with his wife, she said, when he walked out of his East Hollywood apartment and was soon after shot and killed by Los Angeles police.

Luna's wife, Roxana Villalobos, told KPCC she begged him not to take the object — a strip of metal with a knife at the end—that apparently concerned officers who came across him.

LAPD officials have released few details about the shooting. On Friday, Lt. Chris Ramirez told KPCC officers shot Luna as he was walking the streets with what appeared to be a bayonet.

"It looks like a large piece of metal, and attached to the tip of it is a bayonet that's approximately six inches in length or more," Ramirez said.

The shooting occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Friday on Hobart Blvd. near Sunset. 

Hours later, Villalobos stood at the spot, outside a group of two-story stucco bungalows, fighting back tears.

“He was a great guy who loved life, a lot of life, and a lot of good in him,” Villalobos said. “It’s just the mental illness took over.”

Luna, 47, was born in Santiago, Chile but his mother brought him and his sister to the U.S. when he was two years old, Villalobos said. He was raised in Hollywood and went to Hollywood High School.

The two had been together for three years. 

Villalobos said Luna suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Like many who suffer from mental illness, he let his prescriptions lapse, telling her everything would be ok.

“He would always offer excuses,” she said. “Ya know I’m going get better. I don’t need the medication.”

But he did, she said, particularly when confronted with strangers. Luna could fall into deep depression, she said.

“He would say things like 'I’m tired of being a part of this world. This world is nothing but full of hates.' He wouldn’t believe in god anymore.”

She's not sure exactly what happened Friday morning, after Luna left their apartment on Hobart — but she heard gunshots five minutes after he walked out. She said, while knowing little about the details, she doesn't blame police for what happened. 

“Honestly I think they acted as best they could under the circumstances,” she said.

There have been 18 officer-involved shootings by the LAPD this year. All but four were fatal.

This story has been updated.