A police officer in Arkansas who claimed he was shot during a traffic stop has been arrested after admitting to colleagues that he shot himself and staged the crime scene, authorities said.
His claim had prompted a massive manhunt, police said.
David Houser, 50, was taken into custody by Arkansas State Police on Tuesday after turning himself in, police said. He was held on suspicion of filing a false police report and was later released on bail, according to the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.
Houser, who worked for the England Police Department, had reported on Oct. 24 that he exchanged gunfire with a suspect who fled in a SUV, authorities said. He said he had been shot, but the bullet did not pierce his protective vest, police said.
"It’s every chief’s worst nightmare to get a call that your officer has been shot or involved in a shooting,” England Police Chief Nathan Cook told Arkansas Online. “To investigate and find out it’s self-inflicted just puts a whole different spin on it.”
The more officers investigated, the more it became clear that certain details didn’t match up, Cook said, according to the Associated Press. “Details of his story were inconsistent. We went after it as if we were going after someone who had just tried to kill an officer.”
On Monday, Cook said he fired Houser, who had been with the department since October 2013. Cook said the officer admitted to shooting himself and throwing shell casings around the alleged crime scene.
The bullet grazed Houser's vest. He was not hurt, police said.
“I’m not a doctor, so I can’t speculate why this happened. I know he’s had some personal losses lately. We just hope he gets the help he needs," Cook said.
Houser does not have an attorney, the wire service reported.