Officer 'makes up story of getting shot'
Eaton Co. sergeant faces felony counts of filing false report, shooting car
By Kevin Grasha
Lansing State Journal
CHARLOTTE - A sheriff's sergeant who gave a detailed description of a black man he said shot him in the arm actually turned his own gun on himself, prosecutors said Monday.
In a stunning twist, Eaton County Sgt. Jeff Lutz was charged Monday with filing a false report in connection with the March 20 shooting that prompted a massive manhunt in Delta Township for a black male suspect.
Lutz currently is at a mental health treatment facility, officials confirmed Monday.
Glenn Buege - GMC
"There is no danger to the community, as far as an unknown assailant who is armed and has assaulted a police officer," Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mike Eagen said Monday afternoon.
Lutz, who is on paid medical leave, faces two felonies as well as two misdemeanor counts in the incident, according to the prosecutor's office.
The felony charges are filing a false report of a felony and shooting at a police vehicle.
The misdemeanor charges are filing a false report over a police radio and reckless use of a firearm.
Lutz is expected to be arraigned today or Wednesday in Eaton County District Court, Eagen said. His attorney, Greg Michael Hocking, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Lutz faces a maximum of four years in prison on the two felony charges. Eagen said the court also could order Lutz to pay restitution to any agencies that responded to the shooting.
Shortly after 3 a.m. March 20, Lutz reported he was shot in the right arm while on patrol near the West Town Plaza on West Saginaw Highway.
Police blocked off neighborhoods, closed school buildings and conducted a massive search at daybreak for the supposed gunman.
More than 40 police officers from as many as six departments and at least one helicopter participated.
St. Gerard Church shut down its school and canceled two morning Masses while police searched the area, including some parishioners' homes.
"They were pretty frightened at the whole prospect that there might be a shooter running around," said Father John Klein, St. Gerard's pastor.
"If people find out the whole thing was somehow fraudulent, that's a pretty serious intrusion on people's time and lives."
The sheriff's department also released to the media a composite drawing and detailed description of a suspect: a black man, about 6 feet tall with a muscular build, in his mid-20s, with a light to medium complexion, and pock marks on his face.
But the mysterious man with a pock-marked face never existed, prosecutors say.
"We're pulling the picture that's been out there for a couple of weeks, based on today's events," Eaton County Undersheriff Fred McPhail said Monday, referring to a sketch artist's rendering of a suspect that has been plastered on walls and windows across mid-Michigan.
On March 25, the Eaton County Sheriff's Department turned over the investigation to Michigan State Police to avoid any conflict of interest.
Eagen emphasized the Eaton County Sheriff's Department acted with the highest professional standards.
"That was the correct thing for them to do, given what information they had," he said.
McPhail said he learned of the charges Monday.
"I'm disappointed any time an officer's conduct is called into question," he said.
Anger in the community
News of the charges against Lutz angered many in the community.
"I really think it's sad in this day and age, knowing he knows the rules of swearing to serve and protect, to falsely accuse a black person of doing this," said James Gill, president of the Lansing's branch of the NAACP and a Lansing police officer.
Maurice Samuels lives less than a block from the shooting site.
"I'm outraged, that once again an African-American was produced as being the criminal," he said. "It's the taxpayers' money that was spent on a search for a phantom person."
Samuels had to cross a police barricade the morning of March 20 when the school bus couldn't pick up his 11-year-old son, who remained scared for some time.
"It caused hysteria around the neighborhood, with the kids and with myself," Samuels said.
Referring to the charges against Lutz, Samuels said, "That's just unbelievable."
Staff writers Chris Andrews, Tom Lambert and Nicole Geary contributed to this report. Contact Kevin Grasha at 267-1347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
what an idiot
What a fucking tool. I hope his LE career is over.
Some idiot did the same thing here. He isn't a cop now.
A good place for him!
he shoulda told em it was a Mexican, why oh why did it have to be a black man?
Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite) was evacuated, a few years ago, when an officer accidentally shot himself and then made up a story about getting shot. All the happy campers were searched and escorted out of the campsites by armed JBTs. Story went on for months looking for the perp.
I'm thinking he's disappointed at the wrong thing.
Poor, crazy bastards.
Is he related to John Kerry?
'But yesterday the word of Caesar might have stood against the world; now lies he there.' ~ Mark Anthony, Julius Caesar, Act III, scene 2
Yesterday, the word of this officer would have been accepted in any court of law as the word of a demigod....
Yesterday, his fellow officers fanned out looking for a black assailant based upon his word....