Judge Finds LAUSD Police Officer Guilty In Shooting Hoax
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An L.A. County judge has found a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer guilty of lying to officials that he was shot by a burglary suspect when he actually shot himself.
“He’s a pretty damn good actor,” said Mike Brody, who was the first one to reach Stenroos after the alleged shooting. “That’s pretty much what I said, when he was writhing and groaning and rolling around on the ground, I said he had me completely fooled. I thought he was shot, and shot well.”
Jeff Stenroos was convicted of four felony and one misdemeanor counts. He faced charges ranging from insurance and workers compensation fraud, planting evidence and filing a false police report. The judge was still reviewing a sixth charge against the officer.
Stenroos, who was free on $30,000 bail, is back behind bars and has been ordered to undergo a psychological exam.
Prosecutors argued Jeff Stenroos lied in January when he said he was shot by a burglar near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. He claimed he was sitting in his patrol car when the burglar came up and shot him point-blank in the leg.
As seen only on KCAL9 News, an LAPD surveillance tape shows Stenroos, with his wife by his side, crying to investigators after he was shot. He begs them to find the man he claimed shot him.
“I was shot by a man, you must find him,” Stenroos said.
An investigator asks Stenroos whether the shooting was an accident.
“I wish it was,” Stenroos said.
The investigator repeatedly asks Stenroos if he’s willing to swear “before God” that he was intentionally shot by a burglary suspect.
Stenroos raises his right hand and swears he’s telling the truth.
None of it was true, prosecutors argued, supplying evidence that Stenroos shot himself.
What Stenroos eventually admitted to police was that he was cleaning his gun in his patrol car, outside the high school, when he accidentally shot himself in the leg. He then reported to 911 dispatchers that a burglar had shot him.
Stenroos’ claim prompted a large police response and several nearby schools were put on lockdown. The incident cost the city and the school district more than $400,000.
In August, he waived his right to a trial by jury.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy issued a statement following the verdict:
“Mr. Stenroos is a disgrace to the Los Angeles School Police Department, and this District. Since he has been found guilty of five of six counts in a court of law, our legal team can proceed more quickly with the required processes needed to end the officer’s employment.”
Superintendent Deasy will also recommend to the Board of Education that Stenroos be removed as a police officer and district employee. He has been on paid administrative leave following the incident.
Stenroos is due back in court Dec. 14 for sentencing. He could face five years in prison.
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