Defense attorney accuses them of posturing for the cameras
Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and actor Steven Seagal, filming his A&E reality show "Lawman," used a SWAT tank and other armored vehicles in a residential neighborhood to bust a man accused of cockfighting.
As a "Lawman" crew filmed the raid Monday, deputies serving a search warrant blew out the suspect's windows and leveled his gate, frightening neighbors. Jesus Llovera, who was convicted last year of attending a cockfight but has no record of owning weapons, was arrested on charges of suspected cockfighting, Phoenix TV station KPHO reported. He was unarmed.
Seagal was riding in the tank during the raid, the station said. More than 100 chickens and gamecocks at the home were euthanized.
A&E had no comment.
The network announced last month that Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff known for such headline-grabbing initiatives as making jail inmates wear pink and for his enforcement of Arizona's hotly disputed immigration law, invited Seagal to film the third season of his reality show in the county.
Seagal told another station, ABC 15, "Animal cruelty is one of my pet peeves."
Sheriff's department officials said they had reason to believe Llovera was armed and didn't want to be outgunned. But Llovera's attorney, Robert Campus, accused Arpaio of overkill and playing to the "Lawman" cameras.
Campus told KPHO he was a prosecutor for nine years and "there was more force used in this than I've seen in some big drug busts."
Neighbor Debra Ross said she called 911 after hearing the raid, and then realized the sheriff's department was responsible for the noise.
"When the tank came in — and I didn't know we had a tank — so when the tank comes in and pushes the wall over and then you see what's in there, and all it is is a bunch of chickens," Ross told KPHO.
(The department does indeed have a tank, which it says was donated by the Department of Defense and is, technically, speaking, "a self propelled 'Howitzer' emblazoned with anti-drug messages.")
At the time A&E announced "Lawman" would be filmed in Maricopa County, Arpaio said in a network statement: "We're a little unusual here, which should make things pretty interesting."
Watch a report on the raid: