Deputy faked being shot by sniper. Law enforcement: Angry, embarrassed, furious, ashamed
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy falsely claimed last week he was shot by a sniper at the Lancaster sheriff’s station. He’ll now be the subject of a criminal investigation, officials said late Saturday.
The dramatic twist in the case came after days of fruitless searches for a gunman who authorities believed had shot the deputy. The incident prompted the manhunt and massive police response, with much of the focus on an apartment building next to the station.
“The reported sniper assault was fabricated by our deputy,” Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said at an unusual 11 p.m. news conference at the department’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters.
On Sunday morning, a message was posted on the Facebook page of the Lancaster sheriff’s station about the admission by Deputy Angel Reinosa:
“Angry. Embarrassed. Furious. Unbelievable. Ashamed. These are some of the words circulating our station’s hallways since last night as our deputies try to wrap their minds around last night’s press conference surrounding the incident that occurred in our parking lot on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.”
Reinosa, 21, claimed he was struck in the chest about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday as he walked to his car in the employee parking lot at the Lancaster station, authorities said. At the time, investigators believed Reinosa’s bulletproof vest had saved his life but that a bullet had grazed his shoulder.
But much of the deputy’s statement “was self-serving and didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener. No bullets were recovered from the scene.
“There were many things that didn’t add up,” Wegener said.
Though Reinosa was initially taken to a hospital for treatment, detectives said they later saw “no visible injuries,” Wegener said.
Investigators and colleagues became suspicious of Reinosa’s story on the day of the shooting. His radio call about the incident was too calm even for a veteran, a hole in his shirt too big for the minor wound he claimed to have suffered, several sheriff’s officials told the L.A. Times on Sunday.
Deputies and the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau halted their search for the suspected gunman, officials said, and homicide detectives, assisted by forensic experts, turned their attention to Reinosa. By 9:30 p.m. that day, Reinosa was already under heavy suspicion.
Reinosa eventually admitted to investigators that “he was not shot as previously claimed,” Wegener said. The deputy said he used a knife to cut two holes in his shirt.
But Reinosa failed to provide an explanation for his motive for fabricating the story, Wegener said.
Reinosa had been with the Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training.