LAPD seeks felony charges against school police officer who faked shooting
Los Angeles Police Department detectives have submitted to prosecutors their investigation into a school police officer whose shooting hoax set off a massive manhunt, Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.
Jeff Stenroos, an officer with the Los Angeles Unified School Police Department, initially said he had been shot on Jan. 19 after confronting a man he caught trying to break into vehicles near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills.
The incident sparked a huge police response that brought much of the west San Fernando Valley to a standstill for hours. As hundreds of officers searched futilely for the gunman, area schools were locked down and residents were kept from leaving or going to their homes. The operation cost the cash-strapped department hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime and other expenses, Beck said.
Police initially believed Stenroos' story because he suffered bruised ribs and there were indications that his bulletproof vest had absorbed the impact of a gunshot. But inconsistencies in the officer's story led LAPD investigators to grow suspicious. Sources said Stenroos started avoiding detectives as they attempted to conduct follow-up interviews.
When detectives finally caught up with Stenroos more than a week after the alleged shooting, he confessed to fabricating the story, according to LAPD officials with knowledge of the case. He was arrested on suspicion of filing a false police report, a felony offense.
Beck, who said he was "furious" about the hoax, and other city officials reacted with unusual vitriol toward a fellow law enforcement officer. It remains unclear how Stenroos fabricated the shooting and what, if anything, actually happened at the school. Beck has declined to detail what Stenroos has told investigators, because, he said, "I don't believe a word he says."
"We are very desirous of a felony filing," Beck said at news conference Thursday.
A decision by prosecutors in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office on whether to file criminal charges is not expected for several days.
-- Joel Rubin at LAPD headquarters
Photo: This undated photo provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District shows Officer Jeff Stenroos, who was arrested Feb. 1, 2011, on suspicion of filing a false police report claiming he had been shot by a car burglar. Credit: LAUSD / Associated Press