Release of Imprisoned Man Sought

On May 4 a petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in the Long Beach Superior Court seeking the release of a man who was shot in the back by Long Beach Police Officer Dedier Reyes in 2010. Despite being shot in the back, Miguel Vargas was nonetheless convicted of assaulting Reyes who claimed he fired into the man’s back in self-defense.

A writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental right in the Constitution that protects against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.

Vargas’ conviction was based almost entirely on the jury’s belief that Reyes provided honest testimony. Reyes’ credibility has been recently called into question after the district attorney’s office filed felony charges against Reyes alleging perjury and falsification of a police report.

Other information supporting the writ was developed during a civil lawsuit recently settled against Reyes for nearly $500,000. In that lawsuit Reyes was accused of breaking the elbow of a local bus driver and then covering up his involvement.

In addition, the petition filed Wednesday cites reporting by the Long Beach Press-Yelegram, the Long Beach Post, the Beachcomber and City News Service to support the position that Vargas should be released, and a new trial ordered.

Vargas has now served almost 12 years of a 39-year sentence based on the testimony of Officer Reyes. Vargas’ family has remained supportive and hopes he gets a chance for a full airing of the case against him in light of the recent revelations that show that Reyes had an extensive history of on duty excessive force and dishonesty that culminated in the recent civil judgment and felony prosecution.

The Beachcomber confirmed that Reyes was terminated from service with the LBPD following the filing of perjury charges by the Los Angeles District Attorney.

The LBPD was asked on several occasions by the Beachcomber why the department did not enforce administrative sanctions, such as termination, pending a criminal filing by the district attorney but instead elected to “toll” administrative action and allow the officer to remain an active patrol officer, which amounted to more than two years.

During that two-year period Reyes was the subject of additional personnel complaints including the Christopher Williams lawsuit that resulted in a $500,000 settlement approved by the City Council following more than two years of litigation, during which the city attorney contracted with two separate law firms to simultaneously represent the interests of the city collectively and Reyes separately.

The LBPD did not respond to the Beachcomber requests to explain the departments administrative “tolling”policy.

Beachcomber reporter Stephen Downing is cited in the petition relative to disclosures reported in this newspaper in the Williams case, which included six major stories over the past several years.

 

[Editor Note: For further comment, Vargas’ attorney Matthew Kaestner can be reached at (562) 437-0200.]

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Comments

Remind me, how much is police department misconduct —aided and abetted by the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Council— costing Long Beach taxpayers? More importantly, how much is it costing in time taken away from the lives of many who have been wrongfully convicted, and even worse, how many lives have been taken away, period?

The criminal organization that is the city of LB with the aid of the city attorney was busted again trying to hide its criminal activity. These city criminals have cause pain and suffering to many innocent LB residents, and loss of millions of Tax dollars, with no accountability. i'll say it again, the time is now for an investigation into the corrupt actions of all its internal criminals.

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