Students Testify at Trial of Officer Accused in Hoax Shooting

Jeff Stenroos is accused of faking his own shooting, a report that led to a manhunt and several school lockdowns

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Friday, Aug 26, 2011  |  Updated 7:11 PM PDT
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The trial began Friday for LAUSD Police Officer, Jeff Stenroos. He's accused of faking his own shooting while on duty last January. A Woodland Hills neighborhood had to be put on lock-down, while his fellow officers looked for a gunman who didn't exist.

Gordon Tokumatsu

The trial began Friday for LAUSD Police Officer, Jeff Stenroos. He's accused of faking his own shooting while on duty last January. A Woodland Hills neighborhood had to be put on lock-down, while his fellow officers looked for a gunman who didn't exist.

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A trial began Friday for a school police officer accused of faking his own shooting -- a report that led to several school lockdowns and an hours-long manhunt in Woodland Hills.

Jeff Stenroos, 30, pleaded not guilty to a felony count each of filing  a false report, preparing false documentary evidence, peace officer altering evidence, insurance fraud and workers' compensation fraud, along with one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency.

Stenroos is accused of lying about being shot Jan. 19 by a burglary suspect near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. Stenroos said he had been shot once in the chest, but a protective vest  stopped the slug, leaving him with only a bruise, according to prosecutors.

Stenroos was treated and released at a hospital.

In court Friday, students testified they heard "no loud sounds" at the time Stenroos contends he was shot.

The report from Stenroos triggered an eight-square mile manhunt for a shooter. Several schools were locked down in the neighborhood.

There was even a sketch of the gunman, and police questioned several people in connection with the reported shooting.

The estimated cost of the manhunt was more than $400,000.

Stenroos was arrested Jan. 27 after an investigation determined the case was a hoax. During a news conference the day after Stenroos' arrest, police chief Charlie Beck said Stenroos' story had "inconsistencies."

"Up until just several days ago, we believed this was assault on a police officer," Beck said Jan. 28.

That same week, the city council voted unanimously to sue Stenroos. The LA Police Protective League called him a "disgrace to the badge."

Stenroos, who had been with LAUSD police for eight years, later told investigators that he accidentally shot himself.

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