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Arraignment delayed for LAUSD officer in school shooting hoax

Jeff Stenroos appears in a Van Nuys courtroom on Wednesday, March 23, 2011.

March 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles school police officer accused of faking a shooting made his first court appearance on Wednesday.

In court, Jeff Stenroos asked for time to hire his own lawyer. His arraignment was delayed until April 6.

The 30-year-old officer was charged March 10 with one felony count each of filing a false report, perjury by declaration, preparing false documentary evidence and insurance fraud, and one misdemeanor count of false report of an emergency.

Stenroos is accused of faking his own shooting while patrolling El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills on Jan. 19. He claimed he had been shot once in the chest while wearing a bulletproof vest by a burglary suspect.

He was found on the ground near the school's perimeter by a passerby, who used Stenroos' police radio to call for help.

The alleged shooting prompted a widespread school lockdown in Woodland Hills and shut down an 8-square-mile area. The LAPD fanned out in force, looking for a gunman who did not exist. Thousands of school children were kept late after school - some without access to food or a bathroom.

Stenroos was transported to Northridge Medical Center, where Los Angeles Unified School District School Superintendant Ramon Cortines had visited him. Now, Cortines says he hopes Stenroos "gets the book thrown at him."

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says Stenroos put into motion a series of events that wasted valuable department resources and that the officer deserves no leniency.

The nearly eight-year veteran of the school police force was arrested Jan. 27 on suspicion of filing a false police report and released on $20,000 bail about five hours later. He was placed on administrative leave after his arrest.