At 7:40 pm on Thursday, February 13, 1992, Robert Luna, then a detective...

at the narcotics unit, assisted in serving a search warrant with the SWAT team at the residence of Faustino Rodriguez, a suspected drug dealer. Rodriguez, 25 years old, died at the scene from a gunshot wound.

The L.A. Times’ headline two days later read: “Man Slain After Pointing Pistol at SWAT Team”. 5 Months later, the District Attorney’s investigation concluded the same. However, evidence provided by the Long Beach police raises important questions that the DA did not address.

Did the police properly identify themselves?

Did the house residents believe they were being robbed?

Did Robert Luna shoot at Rodriguez, sight unseen, through the closed doors?

The Long Beach police claimed they announced themselves before attempting to enter the residence. However, all witnesses in the house with Rodriguez stated that they never heard anyone yell, “Police”. That was apparently Luna’s job.

In fact, a neighbor reported he only heard police identify themselves after shots were fired. When police arrived at the residence, the metal security was shut and locked. The front door, however, was ajar. Hearing noises at the front door, Rodriguez shut it. At this point, a witness who was in the living room reported bullets came through the door, killing Rodriguez.

Interestingly, while the other officers were issued commendations, Robert Luna was not. Did Luna panic? Did he shoot without a line of sight on the resident? Did Luna’s incompetence lead to the fatal shooting of Faustino Rodriguez?

The contradictory evidence, left unaddressed in the D.A.’s report, from the killing of Rodriguez recalls a recent Long Beach Post headline: “It can easily be perceived as a cover-up:’ Long Beach’s ‘odd’ way of handling police shootings”.


On Saturday, July 16th, 1988, Galen Ball and a friend had just left a prayer meeting celebrating the release of another friend’s mom from the hospital.

Ball was known as a religious man, often carrying a Bible for reflection during the day. While driving home along the Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach stopped Ball for “speeding” and “driving erratically.” Once Ball exited his car, the Long Beach police beat him with batons and a flashlight, claiming he was belligerent. Arresting officers included Robert Luna.

After the police beating, Ball, 23 years old, suffered from headaches and deep lacerations, and was unable to return to work in his family’s roofing business. More than 4 years later, the Long Beach Police, while not acknowledging any wrongdoing on their part, agreed to award Ball $650,000. In that lawsuit, Luna was named as a defendant.

Records from this incident have been destroyed. In the last weeks of 2018, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna forwarded messages from outside attorneys to his staff, advising them to shred records of internal investigations. In a matter of days, 23 years’ worth of records were destroyed.

Luna ordered the unprecedented destruction of police records just as a new police reform bill was to become law. State law SB 1421 requires law enforcement to release upon public request some, though not all, records related to police shootings, use of force and sexual assaults.

Two big questions stand out: Was Robert Luna one of the police officers that brutally beat Galen Ball? And if so, years later when Chief Luna directed the shredding of police records was he in part trying to cover up the facts behind this brutal beating?