A third-strike felon was sentenced today to 13 years in state prison for ramming his vehicle into a marked Orange County Sheriff's Department patrol car. David Araujo Reyes, 28, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to a court offer of felony aggravated assault on a peace officer and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person. Despite having two previous strikes for robbery and street terrorism, driving into a patrol car intending to harm the officer inside does not automatically earn Reyes a sentence to 25 years to life under California's three-strikes law.
Susan Schroeder, chief of staff of the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), explained the severity of a strike against a multiple offender like Reyes, who is also a documented street gang member, is based on the facts of the individual case.
Despite the severity of the penalty sought at the time charges are filed, they can be tweaked by judges and prosecutors as trials move forward, Schroeder further explained.
Based on his conviction, Reyes will have his driver's license permanently revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the OCDA reports.
Around 10 a.m. on March 14, 2010, Reyes drove east on First Street in Santa Ana, where he spotted the patrol car heading west stopped at the red light at Flower Street. Reyes began to turn left onto Flower where, seeing the patrol car passing by, he steered and accelerated into the unit without braking.
The patrol car's driver, a deputy with the Orange County Transportation Authority, suffered cuts around his face and head in what his department's spokesman at the time described as "clearly an intentional act." The collision was captured on the patrol car's video recorder.
Though shaken and struggling to get out of the patrol car, the deputy managed to exit and draw his weapon on Reyes, who stepped out of his car with his hands up. He was taken into custody without further incident and was originally arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer.
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A search of Reyes' vehicle turned up a bag of bullets, which he was prohibited from possessing based on his prior convictions, according to the OCDA.
The Santa Ana Police Department reported that Reyes had recently been released from jail for robbery at the time of the collision.
The deputy, a 12-year veteran of the force, was briefly hospitalized for his injuries.