Earlier this month, a 45-year old Texas man’s truck was vandalized. Someone had tagged Whitney, Texas, resident Scott Lattin’s pickup truck with graffiti reading “Black Lives Matter” and “F**k the police.”
It seemed like the work of anti-police activists who took offense at the “Police lives matter” slogan Lattin had on his vehicle. Lattin reportedly raised nearly $6,000 on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to get the truck repaired.
The story made national headlines, particularly on conservative news sites, feeding into a growing narrative of a “war on cops” in the wake of large-scale protests after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement officials.
The problem, according to officials from the Whitney Police Department, who arrested Lattin on Friday, is that the entire story was made up. Lattin allegedly vandalized his own truck and has been charged with a misdemeanor of filing a false police report.
Lattin, a disabled military veteran, initially claimed he and his family put blue ribbons and a pro-law enforcement massage on the back of his white pickup truck to honor the memory of Darren Goforth, a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy who was fatally shot at a Houston-area gas station earlier this year.
“They need support so they can feel what they do, putting their lives on the line every day, is worth it,” Lattin told Fox 4.
However, as Whitney Police Chief Chris Bentley later explained to the station, “We had initial video when the officers took the report and then when we saw your story on Channel 4. When we looked at those two videos, there were some differences in those and that led us to take the investigation into a different direction.”
Lattin’s police report stated there was no damage to the interior of the vehicle; however, when he gave an television interview, Lattin said there was significant damage to the seats and glove box.
Lattin denied to media that he had committed fraud, but police officials report he had confessed to damaging the truck to collect insurance money.
The website hosting Lattin’s crowdfunding campaign has been taken down.
The accusations against Lattin recall other politically minded frauds committed by people on both sides of the political spectrum. Ashley Todd, a volunteer on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, falsely claimed she had been attacked by a black supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama and had the letter “B” carved into her face. It was later discovered that whole story was fabricated.
Similarly, earlier this year, a Utah man who claimed that he had been the target of a homophobic harassment campaign—which included slurs being carved into his arm and his house being firebombed—staged the crimes himself.