An Arkansas police officer was arrested on Tuesday after he admitted to colleagues that his report of being shot by a Hispanic man during a traffic stop, which launched a statewide manhunt, was actually an incident he fabricated.
50-year-old Sgt. David Houser, formerly with the England police department in Lonoke County, initially claimed that he was shot during a traffic stop around 2 a.m. on Oct. 24.
KATV in Little Rock reported that Houser encountered an early 2000’s Tahoe or Yukon, which “slowed to a stop, then the driver suddenly accelerated, traveling another 100 yards, before stopping in the middle of the highway.”
Houser claimed that when he approached the vehicle, “the driver stuck a gun out of the driver’s window and pointed it directly at him,” and while he tried to shove the gun away from him, the suspect fired and the round struck “across his chest, but it did not penetrate his bulletproof vest.”
Houser’s description of a Hispanic male suspect, possibly in his 30s, armed with a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, who “should be considered extremely dangerous,” launched a statewide manhunt.
However, England Police Chief Nathan Cook said that Houser admitted to investigators on Monday that the traffic stop and the shooting never actually happened.
“The more we investigated, the more it became clear that the details of his story were inconsistent,” Cook said. “We went after it as if we were going after someone who had just tried to kill a police officer.”
Cook explained that after a 10-day investigation, when it was “apparent that some things just didn’t add up,” Houser eventually admitted to fabricating the traffic stop, the shooting, and the crime scene and he revealed that the “gunshot wound to his uniform and his vest area was self-inflicted.”
Cook said that the revelation came as a shock, because Houser was a “very well-respected, very well-liked police officer.”
“Once he admitted to falsifying and fabricating this incident, I terminated him on the spot,” Cook said.