In a rare Saturday night press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials revealed that the rookie deputy who claimed he was shot in the shoulder at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station “completely fabricated” the incident and would be relieved of his duties.
Investigators who met with 21-year-old Deputy Angel Reinosa “saw no visible injury to Reynosa’s shoulder,” department officials said. After being interrogated due to doubts raised from his testimony, Reinosa admitted that he was not shot at from an apartment complex near the station as he previously claimed, sheriff’s Capt. Ken Wegener said.
“He also told investigators that he had caused the holes in his uniform shirt by cutting it with a knife,” Wegener said. “There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder. (It was) completely fabricated.”
Reinosa has failed to provide information concerning his motivation, according to Wegener.
A criminal investigation has been launched, Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon said.
“We intend on relieving Deputy Reinosa of his duties,” Limon said.
The investigation is ongoing and the sheriff’s department plans to present the case to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges that could include false reporting of an emergency, the captain said.
Officials told reporters several things did not add up: No bullets were recovered in the parking lot, no cars were struck by gunfire and many people in the vicinity did not hear any gunshots.
The alleged ambush was reported by Reinosa at 2:48 p.m. Wednesday, leading to a containment perimeter and an hours-long search of the four-story apartment complex from which Reinosa claimed the shots were fired toward the station parking lot in the 500 block of West Lancaster Boulevard.
The apartment building was locked down, as was a nearby school, sheriff’s officials said.
Dozens of SWAT deputies descended on the scene via helicopter and armored vehicles. Tactical teams checked each apartment, officials said.
The search of the apartment building and surrounding area wasn’t concluded until 5:30 a.m. Thursday, according to the department.
The shooting report prompted Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris to express concern about the location of the apartment complex that houses mentally ill people to be so close to the sheriff’s station.
“Of course it’s insanity,” Parris said. “It’s outrageous to have that population in that location. Thank God we don’t have a funeral.”
On Saturday, the LASD’s Lancaster Station made the following post on Facebook:
“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.
“Our deputies responded to a cry for help and did exactly what they have been trained to do to protect our civilian staff, residents and community. Our community and other first responder partners worked side by side with us to move quickly, effectively and efficiently. There is no shame in that.
“We are saddened by the outcome of the investigation, but are so grateful to our community for their cooperation on Wednesday and your ongoing support everyday.
The actions of one individual are not indicative of who Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Deputies are. And we know most people know that. But just in case some of our incredible men and women in tan and green are feeling “embarrassed/angry/ashamed” Sunday, let us remind you of who you really are. One moment does not leave your legacy, the work you do, day in, day out does.
“My hero wears a badge.
#LASD #AV411 #LancasterSheriffsStation #AntelopeValleyStrong #myherowearsabadge”
Southland civil rights activist Najee Ali called for Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to order Reinosa’s immediate arrest.
“There shouldn’t be a double standard of justice,” Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, told City News Service. “Reinosa should be arrested and prosecuted immediately. There were several people who were detained by the deputies while they were investigating a fabricated shooting. He endangered the lives of everyone in that building. The waste of taxpayers dollars and manpower hours are inexcusable.”