Sheriff says he fired deputy who falsely reported being shot

Sheriff Alex Villanueva via AP

LOS ANGELES — A sheriff’s deputy who falsely reported that he had been shot by a sniper has been fired, the Los Angeles County sheriff said Wednesday, calling it a “very disheartening incident.”

The report prompted a massive search of buildings adjacent to the Lancaster sheriff’s station parking lot that lasted into the night.

Some people were evacuated, while others sheltered in place. Commuter train service in the area was halted.

“Employment law limits what I can say about personnel issues, but what I will tell you is that I have taken swift administrative action in the matter,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference

In addition, he said, investigators intend to present a case to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution of 21-year-old Alex Reinosa involving the filing of a false report.

It was unclear if Reinosa has an attorney to comment.

Reinosa radioed on Aug. 21 that he had been shot in the shoulder at the station parking lot. Villanueva later said the deputy had only a minor contusion and eventually acknowledged he had not been shot.

The sheriff would not comment about a motive or Reinosa’s personnel record.

Villanueva said he had concerns about the report after visiting the deputy in the hospital.

“He had what appeared to be some sort of contusion on his shoulder,” the sheriff said. “It was red but it was partially covered by a bandage but did not appear to be what you’d normally consider to be a bullet wound.”

Villanueva said it “seemed odd” but at that point he “did not want to interfere with the integrity of the investigation.”

In an investigative interview on Saturday, Reinosa acknowledged he had not been shot, the sheriff said.

Officials said the deputy had used a knife to cut two holes in the shirt.

Reinosa had been with the Sheriff’s Department for a year and joined the Lancaster station for patrol training in May.

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