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Attempted murder charge dropped for man shot by police after knife lunge
Man to face trial for assault with deadly weapon
BARSTOW • A Barstow judge dropped an attempted murder charge against a man who allegedly attacked a Barstow police officer with a butcher knife before the officer shot him twice, though the man will face trial for assault with a deadly weapon.
Eddie Varela, 31, was held to answer for the March 23 attack on Barstow Police Officer Andrew Buesa while the officer responded to a domestic dispute between Varela and his ex-girlfriend’s family.
Buesa testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday, describing the scene he was called to on the 1600 block of Sunrise Street.
Varela was reportedly drinking and was breaking items in the house, which belonged to his ex’s mother. When Buesa knocked on the door to make contact, no one answered. He could see through a large window the woman was attempting to open the door, but didn’t. He heard a young woman scream, “Oh my God, he’s got a knife!” and noticed Varela had a large butcher knife above his head and followed the woman down the hallway.
“I was worried he would stab the female,” Buesa said. “...There were children in the residence... At that point I kicked the door open and that’s where I confronted him.”
With his gun drawn, Buesa yelled, “Police officer! Drop the knife,” he testified.
When Varela started to move toward him, knife still in hand, that’s when Buesa shot him twice, hitting his stomach and leg.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives investigated the incident.
Varela spent about a week in the hospital before being transferred to West Valley Detention Center. His mother, Sharon Sexson, said she was not able to visit him at the hospital, nor would authorities release any information about his condition, whether he was dead or alive.
“It’s just crazy,” she said before the hearing. “He was doing so well. He had a job. He was providing for his boys.”
Prosecutors argued the act was attempted murder, asserting the fact that Varela used a deadly weapon, indicating he acted with malice. Defense argued there wasn’t enough evidence to charge attempted murder.
Judge John Gibson sided with defense.
Varela will be arraigned Monday for the assault charge. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.
Sexson was relieved her son no longer faced attempted murder charges. She felt they were a stretch.
“I think that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I feel the officer overreacted,” Sexson said.
A search of court records finds Varela was previously convicted of petty theft and several driving under the influence charges.
He is currently in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
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