Long Beach settles alleged police brutality case involving officer accused of lying

The city of Long Beach has agreed to pay $499,800 to settle a federal police brutality lawsuit involving an officer who is facing felony charges for allegedly lying in an unrelated case.

Long Beach Police Officer Dedier Reyes is accused of injuring Christopher Williams, a bus driver from Lomita, while detaining Williams in an incident outside a Pine Avenue bar in March 2018. Williams filed a lawsuit against the city in 2019.

The case was set for trial this month, but Williams’ lawyer, Narine Mkrtchyan, said the city agreed to a settlement on Wednesday. Long Beach City Attorney Charlie Parkin confirmed the settlement amount.

Mkrtchyan said Williams was “pleased” with the decision.

The civil case for Williams hit a snag in December when Reyes, 38, and another officer, David Salcedo, 28, were both charged with felonies for allegedly lying about the manner in which they recovered a gun in a separate 2018 arrest. The incident led to the wrong person being arrested and briefly jailed, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is handling the case.

The pair are due in Los Angeles Superior Court for arraignment on April 4.

The charges could compromise a trove of misdemeanor criminal cases. Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert in December said his office was reviewing more than 200 pending cases connected to Reyes or Salcedo. Haubert said he is also looking into more than 600 closed cases for Reyes, a 16-year veteran with the department.

Haubert in an email on Thursday said his office has so far dismissed eight cases that were set for trial because the officers will not be available to testify. He said his office is continuing to review cases.

The criminal charges also led to snags for the federal civil rights case for Williams. A judge in December issued a sanction against the city of Long Beach in the case for failing to disclose to Williams’ lawyer, Narine Mkrtchyan, that Reyes was the subject of an internal affairs and criminal investigation.

Mkrtchyan said she only learned of the investigations after the criminal charges were filed in December, despite years of requests for Reyes’ personnel records.

The Long Beach Police Department later said it mistakenly did not disclose the internal affairs investigation against Reyes because it was suspended pending the criminal investigation. The department said its system, when searching for internal affairs history reports, does not include suspended investigations. The department said it has since “taken steps to change this reporting function so that this does not occur again.”

In his lawsuit, Williams alleges Reyes twisted his arm and fractured his right elbow while handcuffing him after police mistakenly thought he was involved in a fight outside a bar. Williams had alleged that two officers, including Reyes, roughly took him into custody, while the city of Long Beach maintained that it was a different officer who had detained Williams. 

In light of the criminal charges, both Reyes and Salcedo were suspended from the force. Mkrtchyan said Reyes has since been fired from the department.

The  department did not immediately confirm the employment status of Reyes or Salcedo.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].