LOS ANGELES -- A decorated policeman who confessed to staging the 'heroic' defusing of a bomb he planted on a Turkish Olympic team bus in an attempt to impress superiors was so depressed he was under 24-hour watch, jailers said.
Officer Jimmy Wade Pearson, 40, a nine-year veteran of the force and a certified hero a commander described as a man who 'wanted to slay dragons and rescue damsels,' broke down Tuesday and admitted he planted the bomb he claimed to have found on the bus Monday night in the wheelwell of the Olympic bus at International Airport.
An obviously embarrassed Police Chief Daryl Gates said Pearson confessed as he prepared to take a lie detector test. Pearson's hoax, which triggered a 'red alert' in the Olympic security system, was the only major incident in an otherwise near-perfect performance during the Games.
Jailers told United Press International that Pearson was under constant surveillance in his cell because his 'mental condition is deteriorating' and he was 'very depressed.'
A court commissioner refused Tuesday night to lower Pearson's $60,000 bail on a charge of illegally possessing a destructive device, a felony punishable by up to six years in prison.
'He indicated he was having problems with his supervisors ... and wanted to do something that would gain him attention,' Gates told a news conference.
'And certainly we have all noticed him now.'
Pearson, who has been relieved of duty, was a member of the department's elite Metro Division and had been wounded in the line of duty and decorated for his performance. Before joining the department he had saved a man's life by applying artificial respiration.
Pearson told superiors Monday he spotted the bomb at 5:30 p.m. PDT as its timing alarm went off. He sprinted 60 yards with the device in his hands and dropped it on the tarmac before fleeing. The device was later disarmed by bomb squad officers.
The bomb was not rigged to go off, police said.
'He has been assigned during the entire Olympics -- I hate to tell you this -- to intransit security for dignitaries, for those who were high-risk athletes and officials,' Gates said.
The bus was one of three that had brought about 50 Turks to the airport. Gates said the bus contained mostly baggage, but airport police said some Turkish Olympic officials were aboard.
Mayor Tom Bradley, a retired police lieutenant, said the incident should not detract from the department's performance during the Games.
'What a shame this is that the image and feeling we have for all in the Police Department should be tarnished in this fashion,' Bradley said. 'We should now more strongly say to all in the department what a great job they did (during the Olympics) and how grateful we are to them.'
An Armenian terrorist organization with a history of assassinations of Turkish officials in a long vendetta against Turkey over the massacre of thousands in 1915, claimed to have planted the device.