OUTSIDE PHILADELPHIA -- A local police officer who said he was shot during a traffic stop early Monday morning has been accused of faking the shooting.
Chalfont Borough Patrolman Jon Cousin, 30, was taken into custody late Tuesday evening by Bucks County Detectives. He faces charges that he lied when he claimed he was rushed by one man and then shot by another in the chest-area of his bullet-proof vest.
Cousin, a father of 1-month-old triplets and another young child, was taken into custody at the county courthouse in Doylestown.
The officer is expected to be charged with false reports to law enforcement, reckless endangerment and several other crimes, District Attorney David Heckler said at a press conference.
The 30-year-old Chalfont resident is expected to undergo a mental evaluation in the coming days, Heckler said.
Cousin reported the shooting shortly after 3 a.m. Monday after he radioed dispatch to report that he was checking on a older-model maroon Oldsmobile Cutlass. He said it had no license plates and was parked in the gravel lot of the Lenape Valley Swim Club on Westview Avenue.
Moments later, the officer can be heard in scanner audio obtained by GunCrisis.org shouting “Get back in the car!”
In the next radio call, Cousin can be heard calmly telling the female dispatcher he had been shot in the chest. He added, "I think my vest stopped it."
The car and the armed assailants were all a “figment” of Cousin’s imagination, Heckler stated.
Heckler and Chalfont Police Chief Frank Campbell told reporters that police started noticing issues with the officer’s story within moments of arriving at the scene.
For one thing, Heckler said, police did not find the gravel in the parking lot where the incident was reported to have occurred disturbed at all. The officers also noticed that Cousin did not have his vest on when they pulled up to the scene.
As the investigation progressed, three bullet casings found at the scene did not match the .380 revolver slug that was lodged in the officer’s bullet-proof vest, Heckler said. The three casings matched the officer’s service pistol.
A canvass of the neighborhood surrounding the swim club gave officials a lead. A nearby resident who was reading a book when the incident occurred was certain she heard only three gunshots. Not the four - one from the subject and three fired by the officer - that Cousin reported, the district attorney said.
Ballistics examination of the evidence and an interview with the officer further showed that the story from the 4-year veteran of the Chalfont department did not add up.
Cousin was taken by ambulance to Abington Memorial Hospital after the shooting and released shortly after, a hospital spokesperson said on Monday. Heckler said the officer did not sustain any noticeable wounds, and a ballistics expert, Montgomery County detective John Finor, said if the officer had been shot in the vest with a .380 round, he would have had some visible injury.
Heckler said the officer had not yet told police why he faked his own shooting.
It was unclear when Cousin’s vest was struck with the bullet, but Heckler said officials don't believe the shot was fired on Monday. The striking bullet was fired from a gun the officer legally owned.
County authorities arrested Cousin after “inviting” him to the courthouse in a “ruse.” Heckler implied the arrest was done that way to ensure the safety of the officer’s family and others.
The DA said he intends to seek restitution from Cousin for the incident’s cost to taxpayers. While he was not sure of the exact cost, he said the investigation has “put the taxpayers through a lot of expense.”
In the hours after the shooting was reported, a massive police presence, including K9s and a helicopter, rushed to the scene. Several detectives at both the local and county level also are working on the case, Heckler said.
Chalfont borough leaders, Heckler and Campbell said they were thankful no one was harmed in the incident.
The borough chief said he could not comment on the officer’s performance with the small eight officer department. He did add that no previous incident like Monday’s were on the officer’s record.
Campbell added he was “frustrated” by the incident.
“The people in Chalfont are safe,” Heckler said.
Chalfont borough manager Melissa Shafer said Cousin has been put on administrative leave and the borough has initiated an employment investigation into the matter.
Doylestown Patch editor Sarah Larson contributed to this report.