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California

D.A. reviewing investigation of deputy accused of faking sniper shooting

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Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials prepare to search an apartment building where they believed a sniper was hiding after allegedly wounding a deputy last week.
(KTLA-TV)

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Friday they are beginning to review the criminal investigation submitted by detectives involving a L.A. County sheriff’s deputy accused of lying about being shot by a sniper.

Angel Reinosa, a probationary employee who had been with the Sheriff’s Department for about a year, became the subject of a criminal investigation last week after he said he was shot by a sniper outside the sheriff’s Lancaster Station, a claim that officials said he later admitted was untrue.

It’s unclear when the district attorney will make a decision about charges.

Saying he had taken “swift administrative action in the matter,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced at a news conference Wednesday that Reinosa was no longer employed by the department or the county. Villanueva declined to elaborate on the deputy’s departure.

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Reinosa, 21, initially told investigators that he had been on his way to his car in the station’s parking lot when he was hit by rifle fire from a nearby apartment building. He claimed the protective vest he was wearing stopped a shot to his chest, while another bullet had grazed his shoulder.

When Villanueva visited Reinosa at the hospital, the deputy had what appeared to be a contusion on his shoulder that was red and covered with a bandage. The sheriff said that it did not appear to be a bullet wound and the situation “seemed odd.”

Still, the incident sparked a massive response from law enforcement officials, who spent days searching for a phantom gunman. It wasn’t long before Reinosa’s story unraveled, officials said.

Investigators noted there had been no 911 calls reporting gunfire in the area and no bullets were found in the parking lot. A hole in his shirt that Reinosa said came from a bullet was far too large, multiple sheriff’s officials and others with knowledge of the investigation told The Times.

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On his own radio call seeking help, sources say Reinosa sounded too calm for someone who had just been shot, let alone a rookie deputy.

By nightfall, even as a massive manhunt for his purported attacker continued, investigators began scrutinizing Reinosa’s story. Those early suspicions were borne out Saturday night, when investigators announced Reinosa had concocted the shooting.


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