Hall of Shame: Crooked cop shoots self in foot with shot to chest

By James Quiggle
December 22, 2011

gunpointThe distress call came in — a cop was down.

A passer-by found Los Angeles School District police officer Jeff Stenroos lying on the ground near his open car door.

A car-burglary suspect with a pony tail and black leather jacket pumped a bullet into Stenroos while he patrolled the perimeter of El Camino High, the seemingly stricken officer said.

But the attack on an officer was a hoax. Stenroos shot himself in his bullet-proof vest and then took paid time off of work courtesy of a fraudulent workers compensation injury claim.

His scheme created chaos throughout San Fernando Valley right after the shooting.

paramedicerHundreds of officers were diverted from essential crime-fighting and public-service duties. They combed the area in a fruitless dragnet that cost $361,000 in taxpayer dollars and left the streets less-protected.

Nine schools also were locked down. More than 9,000 students were ordered to stay in their classrooms for up to 10 hours. They had little food and no bathroom breaks for up to six hours. Some kids had to use trash cans as toilets.

An eight-square-mile area was locked down as well, snarling traffic and disrupting people’s lives. Stenroos, who was an eight-year force veteran, even took part in the manhunt after being treated at a hospital for a bruised chest.

But Stenroos wasn’t hurt much. He complained of pains and injuries that didn’t exist. He conned the school district into paying out $57,000 in medical care while fraudulently taking workers-comp leave.

He planted a shell casing at the claimed shooting scene, which seemed to support his story. Stenroos even gave a sketch of the suspect, prompting police to divert yet more valuable manpower as they tracked down and questioned several people.

But investigators grew suspicious. Stenroos couldn’t keep basic facts straight. He said, for example, that the guy fired only one shot, but later said he squeezed off several shots.

Stenroos also dodged investigators when they tried to question him.

He lied vividly when he finally did seemingly cooperate. “I said, ‘Oh my god’...pain like you wouldn’t believe,” he said during a police interview.

No, prosecutors didn’t believe.

Stenroos was convicted of insurance fraud and other crimes, and received four years. He also tossed his eight-year career into a trash bin.

“His actions were particularly appalling because he trivialized the real dangers Los Angeles police officers face every day,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “Assaults against officers are up, and for someone to turn that into a hoax is abhorrent.”

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