Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy May Face Criminal Charges After Allegedly Fabricating Sniper Story
A California sheriff's deputy is facing a criminal investigation after his bosses said he fabricated a story about being shot by a sniper. Twenty-one-year-old Angel Reinosa said he was hit in the shoulder on Wednesday outside his station in Lancaster, north of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said hundreds of officers responded, a commuter rail line was shut down and resources were wasted.
Authorities said Reinosa didn't explain his motive for the false claim, but now he's lost his job and could face criminal charges for filing a false report about a crime. The local sheriff told the Los Angeles Times they intend to hold Reinosa responsible for breaking the law and betraying the community.
"There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injuries sustained to his shoulder," Homicide Bureau Captain Kent Wegener said. "Completely fabricated."
Wegener said much of Reinosa's story to police did not add up.
"Much of his statement was self-serving, didn't make a whole lot of sense," Wegener said.
Reinosa radioed for help Wednesday from the police station parking lot, saying he had been shot by a sniper.
"I'm taking shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad," Reinosa said in the radio call. "I think I'm hit in the right shoulder, it might have gone through … I think it's from the apartment window. There's multiple windows open. I don't know where the shots came from."
SWAT teams went door to door evacuating residents from the apartment building while others sheltered in place. Police also searched the area by helicopter.
"When a police officer says he's been shot or shot at, we respond in force," Wegener said. "There was a large perimeter to protect this area because we didn't know where this armed gunman was."
"My family had to be outside the house, and I had to stay at my mom's house because they weren't letting anybody in and out," said Jonte Williams, who lives in the apartment building.
Investigators said Reinosa later admitted his story was not true. They found no visible wounds on him, though he did have holes in his shirt from a bullet that he said had grazed him. According to police, he later admitted he cut the holes himself.
"It's extremely disappointing," Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said. "Our deputy sheriffs are held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, in this case, he didn't act to that standard."
Reinosa had only been a deputy with the sheriff's department for a year. The deputy sheriff's union told CBS News Reinosa's actions jeopardizes trust.