Officer's story of being shot was inconsistent from the beginning, Chief Beck says
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said there were early questions about Los Angeles School Police Department officer Jeff Stenroos' claims that an assailant shot him outside El Camino Real High School last week.
"There were some inconsistencies that emerged early on," Beck said Friday. "It was just recently that we were able to get accurate information."
Police announced Thursday that Stenroos' story of being shot was concocted. Stenroos has been booked on a felony charge of filing a false police report and was released on $20,000 bail Friday morning.
Beck said officials are trying to sort out what actually happened. The officer's vest was hit by a bullet, but it's unclear if the shooting took place near the school. Beck would not say whether detectives thought it was an accident.
"The entire city was led down a path of misinformation," the chief said.
Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon Cortines issued an apology, noting that the shooting case caused thousands of students to be under lockdown for hours.
"On behalf of the thousands of dedicated professionals that comprise the Los Angeles Unified School District, I would like to apologize to the public for the hoax that was perpetrated by a rogue officer of the Los Angeles School Police," Cortines said in a statement. "Thousands of people were inconvenienced by the actions of this one man. I want to again apologize to everyone who was alarmed, who worked long hours and who were adversely affected by his actions."
Cortines said the LAUSD has relieved Stenroos of duty and begun the process of firing him.
"Although Jeff Stenroos was an eight-year veteran of the Los Angeles School Police, his actions in no way reflect the professionalism and integrity of the men and women who protect and serve this District every day," he added.
Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said Stenroos was a "disgrace."
"The law enforcement community is disgusted," Weber said in a statement. "While Mr. Stenroos is a disgrace to the badge, his individual and dangerous actions should not reflect on the hard-working men and women in law enforcement."
Police had said Stenroos was shot in the chest Jan. 19 after he confronted a man who was attempting to break into vehicles near the eastern boundary of El Camino Real High School campus. Stenroos' bulletproof vest absorbed the impact of a single gunshot, which Los Angeles Police Department officials said could easily have killed the officer.
The incident sparked a massive police response that inconvenienced thousands of people for the day as officers blocked roads, locked down schools and refused to let people in or out of a 7-square-mile area.
Authorities arrested Stenroos after he allegedly admitted to fabricating the story, a senior LAPD official close to the investigation told The Times.
Outrage, disappointment over police officer who allegedly lied about being shot
Thousands trapped inside police shooting perimeter in Woodland Hills
Woodland Hills search area one of largest in recent LAPD history
-- Richard Winton, Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: The scene at Burbank Boulevard and Manton Avenue on Jan. 19, with El Camino Real High School in the background. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times