By Hannah Adams
LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón announced this week his office sought, and received, a resentence for Miguel Vargas—who was sentenced to spend 39 years in state prison after Officer Deidier Reyes claimed Vargas assaulted him with a firearm and he proceeded to shoot him in response.
Vargas suffered multiple gunshot wounds—Reyes was unharmed.
Officer Reyes was later charged with perjury and falsifying a police report in a separate case, and has since been fired.
“Officer Reyes has been charged by my office with perjury and the falsification of a police report,” District Attorney Gascón said. “This officer is the only witness to the crime that resulted in Mr. Vargas being sentenced to 39 years in prison.”
Gascón added, “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.
“When police officers engage in conduct that violates the public trust, it calls into question the legitimacy of the criminal legal system. In order for the public to have confidence in the system, we need to hold its actors accountable for their misdeeds. When the integrity of a conviction is at issue, continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice.”
In 2011, a jury found Vargas guilty of a felony count for assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm and a felony count for possession of a firearm by a felon.
Vargas’s prior conviction for a residential burglary led to his 39-year prison sentence.
The District Attorney’s Office has since filed criminal charges against Reyes, who had arrested Vargas in the assault case.
Reyes was charged with one count each of perjury, filing a false report and falsifying a public record in reference to a 2018 case where he and another officer are accused of fabricating the circumstances in which a handgun was recovered that led to a wrongful conviction.
The case against Reyes is set for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 9.
Given those circumstances, the District Attorney’s Office reviewed Vargas’s case—Vargas has served 12 years of his sentence—and determined that a sentence reduction would be appropriate.
In a motion to modify Vargas’s sentence, Deputy District Attorney Lara Bazán stated that a reduction of his sentence is fair in light of many factors, including misconduct, Vargas’s age at the time of the crimes, Vargas’s lack of a criminal history, etc.
Prosecution suggested Vargas be resentenced to the maximum term on the possession of a firearm charge (six years), waive sufficient time credits to allow him to be placed on a year of post-release supervision and enter a six-month residential reentry program to allow him the tools to transition back into the community.