A man serving a 39-year state prison sentence for assaulting a Long Beach police officer was re-sentenced Thursday to time already served after his conviction on that charge was vacated due to a pending criminal case against the officer in connection with an unrelated arrest.
In a statement, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón noted that now-former Officer Dedier Reyes was the only witness to the crime that resulted in Miguel Angel Vargas — who had a prior residential burglary conviction — being sentenced to 39 years following his 2011 conviction for one felony count each of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“The jury relied on the credibility of this officer. As a result of the pending charges against Reyes and concern that there may have been procedural errors that occurred at trial, we are unable to maintain confidence in the integrity of the assault conviction,” the county’s top prosecutor said.
Vargas, who had served 12 years behind bars, agreed to waive sufficient time credits to allow him to be placed on a year of post-release supervision and to enter a six-month residential re-entry program to allow him to transition back into the community following his lengthy period of incarceration, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The case against Vargas, now 34, stemmed from allegations that he assaulted Reyes with a firearm and that the officer shot him in response in October 2010.
In May, attorney Matthew G. Kaestner filed a petition asking Superior Court Judge Chet Taylor to set aside Vargas’ assault conviction.
Kaestner said he was “elated” with the decision.
“He’s going to hit the ground running,” he said of his client, who is expected to be released from the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad. “I think he has a bright future.”
Reyes, now 38, and a second officer, David Salcedo, now 29, were charged last December with one count each of filing a false report and falsifying a public record, while Reyes is also facing one count of perjury.
Reyes and Salcedo are accused of lying about the circumstances surrounding the recovery of a handgun after they detained two men outside a taqueria and found a bag with a loaded handgun inside on Feb. 15, 2018, resulting in the wrong person being arrested and briefly held in custody, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The two have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require them to stand trial. Reyes and Salcedo are due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Sept. 9.