A second former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of depriving a man of his civil rights in Compton more than three years ago.
Miguel Angel Vega, 33, of Corona, admitted in a plea agreement on Tuesday that he and his then partner, Christopher Blair Hernandez, 37, illegally detained a man after a verbal altercation in April 2020, then injured him when Vega crashed their patrol car, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
Prosecutors identified the victim as J.A., though the Los Angeles Times said his name is Jesus Alegria.
Alegria, who was also challenged to a fight by Vega and threatened with a being left in gang territory where he would be beaten, was not given a valid reason for his detention and “was not handcuffed, his seatbelt was not secured, he never was told he was under arrest, nor was he informed of his rights at any time – all of this in violation of LASD policy,” prosecutors said.
After the crash, Alegria was told to flee, despite suffering a head injury and sustaining a cut above his eye that later required stitches. The deputies “then filed false reports to cover up the deputy and his partner’s unlawful conduct,” according to the release.
“When asked by the supervising sergeant why J.A. had been in the SUV at the time of the collision, Vega falsely told the sergeant that J.A. had been detained for being under the influence of a controlled substance,” said prosecutors, who added that, as part of the coverup, the two had another deputy charged Alegria with being under the influence of methamphetamine, “even though Hernandez and Vega knew that this accusation was false.”
Vega’s guilty plea comes just weeks after Hernandez’s decision to plead guilty to a felony conspiracy charge in July. He faces up to five years in federal prison when he’s sentenced on Jan. 8, 2024.
Vega, meanwhile, could be sentenced to up to 10 years in federal prison, as he is pleading guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
The incident with Alegria was not the only allegation of wrongdoing by the pair in 2020.
Two months after the altercation with Alegria, Vega and Hernandez were involved in the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado, 18, in Compton.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office found that Vega shot Guardado five times in the back.
The two former deputies were relieved of duty at the end of 2020.