LOS ANGELES – A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy accused of falsely claiming to have been shot outside the Lancaster sheriff’s station pleaded not guilty Friday to three criminal charges.
Angel Raul Reinosa — who was a rookie deputy when he reported being shot last August — was charged Jan. 16 with two felony counts of insurance fraud and one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.
“He strongly denies the allegations made against him,” Reinosa’s attorney, Dmitry Gorin, said in a written statement. “The defense intends to demonstrate reasonable doubt that any crime was committed. There is evidence in the police investigation contrary to the position of the government. We expect that testimony in court will demonstrate that Mr. Reinosa lacked criminal intent. We hope everyone can keep an open mind before all evidence is presented.”
After an earlier court appearance, Gorin said his client believed “strongly that he was shot” and said he understood that his 21-year-old client received “extensive medical treatment at the hospital.”
Reinosa reported that he was shot in the shoulder while standing in the parking lot of the Lancaster sheriff’s station in the 500 block of West Lancaster Boulevard about 2:50 p.m. Aug. 21. The reported ambush triggered the establishment of a massive containment perimeter and an exhaustive, hours-long search of a four-story apartment complex from which Reinosa claimed the shot had been fired.
A nearby school was also placed on lockdown as dozens of SWAT deputies descended on the scene via helicopter and armored vehicles. The search of the building and surrounding area continued until roughly 5:30 a.m. the following day.
On Aug. 24, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that the shooting report turned out to be a hoax, and that Reinosa was no longer a member of the department.
Sheriff’s officials told reporters that several things did not add up in Reinosa’s story: 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.
“As sheriff, I am responsible for my deputies and am embarrassed and incredibly disappointed at what this deputy did,” Villanueva said at the time. “I apologize to our community and our elected officials who rallied in our support. During the investigation, we had suspicions concerning the validity of the claimed assault, but had to exercise care before accusing an employee of making false statements.”
Reinosa was arrested Jan. 16 in Sylmar during a traffic stop by Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives and released on bond early the next morning.
He is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse April 27, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.
Reinosa could face up to 5 1/2 years in jail if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
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