An Arizona man is suing Steven Seagal after the actor-turned-lawman mowed down his fence in a tank as part of an animal cruelty raid by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s SWAT team that left 100 chickens dead. Yep, a tank. Oh, and the man says they also shot his puppy.
Rough justice for an incorrigible animal abuser, or a shameless reality TV stunt that victimized an innocent man and his beloved animals? That’s for the courts to sort out.
The plaintiff, 42-year-old Jesus Llovera, was on probation stemming from a cockfighting arrest at the time of the March raid, the local ABC News affiliate reported at the time. County sheriff Joe Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” apparently welcomed Seagal and the crew of his reality TV show, “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” along for the ride as the SWAT team burst onto Llovera’s property, smashed things up and seized his animals. Seagal, fatigue-clad, rode in the tank that rammed the gate, while his TV crew filmed the action.
“Animal cruelty is one of my, uh, pet peeves,” Seagal murmured in a local TV news interview after the raid.
There’s no suggestion that Seagal personally shot and killed the puppy, as some headlines have suggested. But Llovera, the cockfighting suspect, is suing him and the sheriff’s office for $25,000 apiece, claiming the raid was a stunt designed “to make good TV for Steven Seagal.” According to TMZ, he contends he kept the roosters “for show,” not for fighting. He added that he would drop the suit against Seagal if the actor would apologize to him and his children.
The sheriff’s office contends the raid was justified. Arpaio defended Seagal’s involvement, telling ABC15, “His role is he’s working for us, just like any other posse people.” Investigators said at the time that about 100 birds had to be euthanized at the scene, while the rest were saved and turned over to a third party. And the puppy-killing claim? “That is a fabrication,” Chief Deputy David Trombi said. “That is just a bunch of crap.”