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L.A. school police officer to be arraigned in alleged shooting hoax [Updated]

March 23, 2011 |  7:53 am

A Los Angeles Unified School District police officer who claimed he was shot by an assailant near a San Fernando Valley high school was expected to be arraigned Wednesday on multiple felony charges.

[Updated at 9:41 a.m.: The arraignment was postponed until April 6 to give the officer time to hire an attorney, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney's office said.]

The charges against Officer Jeffrey Stenroos include perjury, filing a false insurance claim, preparing false evidence and filing a false police report in connection with the alleged Jan. 19 hoax. Stenroos, who also faces a misdemeanor of falsely reporting an emergency, is expected to plead not guilty.

He remains free on $20,000 bail and faces a maximum sentence of five years in state prison if convicted on all counts.

The eight-year LAUSD police veteran was arrested in January in connection with the tale that brought Woodland Hills and surrounding communities to a standstill; nine schools were locked down, leaving 9,000 students shut inside their classrooms for hours.

Los Angeles Police Department officials have said they still are not entirely sure what really happened that day.

According to the LAPD, Stenroos told authorities he had been shot in his bulletproof vest just outside the El Camino Real High School campus by a white man in his 40s wearing jeans and a bomber jacket.

Police initially believed Stenroos' story because he suffered bruised ribs and there were indications his bulletproof vest had absorbed the impact of a gunshot. But detectives began questioning Stenroos' version of events after flaws emerged in his story.

Stenroos also tried to avoid investigators seeking follow-up interviews, police said. As the story began to unravel, Stenroos checked himself into Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valenica, complaining of chest pains.

Then, a week after the shooting, Stenroos confessed to the hoax, telling investigators he had accidentally fired his weapon, according to LAPD officials with knowledge of the case.

The school district began the process of dismissing Stenroos earlier this month.


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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Jeffrey Stenroos leaves the Van Nuys courthouse after his arraignment was postponed Wednesday morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times