Four people were honored Wednesday for their courage in helping law enforcement keep the community safe—including a Long Beach man who ran after a man he saw beating a woman in a Signal Hill alley.
The awards were presented by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey during the Rotary Club of Long Beach luncheon aboard the Queen Mary. Lacey presents the awards several times a year to citizens who assist in criminal prosecutions, preventing crimes or capturing suspects.
Awards on Wednesday were presented to:
John Raski, 67, of San Pedro
On June 14, 2015, Raski and his wife were reading in their bedroom when they heard loud noises outside their San Pedro home. Raski went to the window and saw a man chasing another man around a car. He then watched the defendant shoot at the victim, who later died from his wounds. Raski identified the suspected gunman for authorities. He testified for the prosecution at two separate murder trials, after the first jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. His testimony was essential in getting justice for the victim and his family, Lacey said in a news release.
A jury convicted the defendant of first-degree murder on June 24. He is facing sentencing this month, and faces a minimum of 25 years to life in prison.
Viridiana Chavez, 33, of Los Angeles
On May 31, 2018, Chavez’s 12-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted while walking to school in Los Angeles. Five days later, Chavez was walking her daughter to school when the girl saw her attacker. Chavez called 911 and followed the man onto a Metro Blue Line train toward Long Beach and then, when he got onto a bus, chased him on foot, all while keeping sheriff’s deputies informed of his whereabouts. Her courageous actions and willingness to testify at trial helped take a violent offender off our streets, the district attorney said.
The defendant was sentenced to 40 years in state prison after pleading no contest to two counts of forcible lewd act on a child under 14 years old and admitting one strike. He was ordered to register as a sex offender.
John Laguna, 45, of Santa Ana, and Rogelio Martinez-Reyes, 27, of Long Beach
Laguna and Martinez-Reyes were working in their Signal Hill office on March 9, 2018, when they saw a man assaulting his girlfriend in an alley. Martinez-Reyes yelled for the man to stop and ran after the fleeing suspect. Laguna stayed and comforted the injured woman and called 911. The men stopped the brutal attack, preventing further harm to the woman, and were ready to testify as witnesses for the prosecution, prompting a guilty plea in the domestic violence case.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of injuring a spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend or child’s parent. He was sentenced to three years of summary probation and was ordered to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and has a lifetime ban from owning a firearm. A 10-year protective order was issued for the victim.
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