The undocumented immigrant who was beaten by Santa Ana police last summer – which is now the subject of a federal grand jury investigation – was arrested last week after running through homes and charged with a series of new felonies.
Edgar Vargas was under the influence of drugs last Monday night when he entered multiple homes and yards on S. Flower Street, and ran through homes stretching across several blocks, according to a police report obtained by Voice of OC.
He “caused damage to property as well as kept some residents from leaving their house as they were in fear for their safety,” the report states.
Vargas also mumbled to a resident that someone was trying to “get him,” according to police.
When a resident of a different home saw Vargas hiding under the kitchen table, the resident asked him why he was there.
Vargas responded that “they are trying to kill me,” the report states. The resident told police he then looked outside but didn’t see anyone.
Vargas was charged with seven felonies, including burglary, false imprisonment, vandalism and resisting officers. He also faces two misdemeanor counts of vandalism for breaking a window and leaving his blood on walls and furniture.
Vargas’ public defender says his client suffers from profound mental health problems, and had been in the street trying to grab moving vehicles.
“He is exactly the type of person that needs protection,” said Frank Bittar, a senior deputy public defender. “He was paranoid and [believed] he was being chased.”
Vargas’s arrest last June attracted national media attention after video footage emerged showing him face down and with his hands up in a front yard before police began repeatedly punching him, swinging a baton at his legs and shooting him with a Taser gun.
The police officers claimed self-defense, saying Vargas attacked them as they were responding to a burglary call in the central part of the city, and pursued felony charges against him for assaulting an officer, causing great bodily harm and resisting arrest.
Then, last August, federal immigration agents arrested Vargas while he was on his way to Orange County Superior Court to defend himself against the charges.
The case took another turn when the FBI later confirmed that a civil rights investigation had been opened into the police officers’ actions, which prompted Vargas’s release from federal custody. And local prosecutors dropped all the charges against Vargas except for attempted burglary.
FBI officials later vouched for Vargas as a victim of “felonious assault” by the officers when they submitted a certification for a visa that would allow him to stay in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Vargas filed a federal lawsuit against the city over the beating.
In June, the city revealed that a federal grand jury was investigating the officers’ actions.