Man convicted of assault and evading arrest in 2012 chase by Costa Mesa police

A 36-year-old man was convicted by an Orange County Superior Court jury Thursday of ramming two patrol cars during a chase by Costa Mesa police in 2012.

Juan Manuel Reyes was found guilty of two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one felony count of evading arrest and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage.

Reyes is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 19, according to court records. He could face life in state prison, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

The pursuit began just before 5 p.m. Sept. 11, 2012, when a Costa Mesa police officer saw Reyes driving a Toyota Camry in the 3000 block of Coolidge Avenue.

Santa Ana authorities had asked Costa Mesa police to keep an eye out for Reyes, who was wanted on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint and keeping her in hotels for 11 days, police said at the time.

The Costa Mesa officer tried to get Reyes to pull over, but he led officers on a high-speed chase through the city, according to police testimony at Reyes’ preliminary hearing in November 2013.

Authorities said Reyes sped down Baker Street and turned in to a Mobil gas station. One officer tried to block the driveway, but Reyes veered around him and struck another officer’s car, police said.

When the officer got out of the car with his gun drawn, Reyes accelerated toward him, authorities testified. The officer jumped into his vehicle for cover.

The other officer saw Reyes make a fist-pump motion and, suspecting he might be armed, fired three shots at the Camry. Reyes was not hit, authorities said.

The chase continued to Main Street and Red Hill Avenue, where Reyes hit another patrol car, police said. An officer got out with his gun drawn, but Reyes backed up and drove away.

The Camry eventually broke down near the intersection of Sunflower Avenue and Main Street in Santa Ana, and Reyes was taken into custody, authorities said.

Reyes’ defense attorney, Renee Garcia, said during the preliminary hearing that her client was afraid and fled when officers opened fire.

“There’s just no evidence that Mr. Reyes was trying to hit this police officer,” she said. “He was just trying to flee from them.”

In connection with the kidnapping allegations, which are being prosecuted separately, Reyes is facing 11 felony charges, including carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and criminal threats. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 18, according to court records.

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