Former LBPD officers Dedier Reyes (left) and David Salcedo seen during the opening of their trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Courthouse on charges of falsifying a police report. Photos by Maison Tran.

As trial began Wednesday, jurors heard dueling portrayals of two former Long Beach police officers accused of lying in their police reports: Prosecutors alleged they purposefully misrepresented the facts to justify a wrongful arrest while defense attorneys said it was nothing more than an innocent mistake.

Dedier Reyes, 40, and David Salcedo, 30, are accused of lying about the circumstances surrounding the recovery of a handgun in order to arrest two documented gang members outside the El Bukanas taqueria in Long Beach on Feb. 15, 2018.

Reyes, who spent more than a dozen years with the LBPD, and Salcedo, who was being trained by Reyes at the time, each face one count of falsifying a police report. Reyes additionally faces a perjury charge for allegedly signing a separate document attesting to the facts of the arrest, prosecutors said.

Though the two had also been previously charged with falsifying a public record, that charge was dropped earlier in the case after it was determined to be “legally redundant,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Reyes and Salcedo were on patrol the night of the arrest and driving past the 300 block of Anaheim when they recognized two gang members, identified as Max Medina and Orlando Fonseca, standing outside the El Bukanas taqueria.

After seeing them, Reyes and Salcedo drove down the street and made a U-turn before making a second U-turn to park in front of the restaurant, authorities said.

Because the two gang members were on parole at the time, they were subject to being detained and searched by officers. Following the short interaction outside of the restaurant, the officers went inside where they found a satchel with a gun. The officers took both alleged gang members into custody, and Fonseca spent several days in jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Reyes, according to his police report, claimed to have recognized the suspects, specifically Fonseca, and saw that he was carrying a brown Louis Vuitton satchel over his shoulder, prosecutors said.

Reyes then reported to have observed Fonseca walk inside El Bukanas with the bag over his shoulder and ditch it while Medina remained outside, prosecutors said.

But during opening arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Kristopher Gay laid out a timeline of the events and attempted to discredit both of the officers’ police reports, saying it was impossible for Reyes or Salcedo to have observed this because they were in their patrol car down the street when the bag was ditched.

Additionally, security footage from the restaurant appears to show Medina, not Fonseca, carrying the bag and then ditching it inside the restaurant after noticing police doubling back, Gay said.

“This case is about two U-turns and three lies,” Gay said during opening statements. “Not one lie, not two lies, three lies.”

Reyes’ attorney, Benjaim Karabian, said his client did not have any ill intent. He was simply doing what he was trained to do during his career with the department.

“There’s more to this than what the prosecutors say,” Karabian said, adding that the lighting conditions while officers were driving obscured Medina and Fonseca, whose behavior was allegedly consistent with suspicious activity.

Furthermore, Karabian called into question the decision by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to file charges against Reyes and Salcedo more than two years after the case had already been investigated by Jackie Lacy’s administration, which did not choose to file charges, allowing both men to continue working as police officers.

“This case isn’t as black and white as it seems,” Karabian told jurors. “Keep an open mind.”

Defense attorney John Barnett, meanwhile, contended that Salcedo made an “honest reasonable mistake” when he named Fonseca as the person with the bag, given that it was allegedly hanging between both Fonseca and Medina when the officers drove by that evening.

“The facts will show he is guilty of nothing more than misidentification,” Barnett told jurors. “There’s no evidence to support that this was an intentional lie.”

Moreover, Barnett portrayed Fonseca and Medina as criminals whose presence in the area created a danger to not only the officers but to the public.

“They are not nuns in the alley getting mugged,” Barnett said. “These are guys who are real criminals.”

Reyes and Salcedo have both remained free in lieu of $1 bail ever since being charged for the alleged crimes.

The charges against them have also had ripple effects in other cases, including one last year when a man who was serving a 39-year sentence for assaulting a Long Beach police officer based on Reyes’ testimony had his conviction vacated.

The trial is expected to last through the week.

Editors note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the charges.