Steven Seagal in legal trouble over raid that man says killed puppy
An Arizona man is demanding that Steven Seagal pay $25,000 and apologize over the death of his family's puppy, which he says was killed during a raid on his home that authorities carried out to try and locate evidence of illegal cockfighting.
Jesus Sanchez Llovera, 30, says the incident, which occurred on March 9, was captured on film for the 59-year-old action star's reality show, "Steven Seagal: Lawman." The show airs on the cable channel A&E and sees the actor responding to suspected crimes along with an "elite team of deputies."
Representatives for Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, Seagal and the network and production company of his reality show had no immediate comment when contacted by OnTheRedCarpet.com on Thursday, September 1.
On Monday, August 30, Llovera filed a notice of claim against Seagal and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, claiming that one of the deputies shot and killed his family's 11-month-old puppy and also killed 100 of his roosters during the raid.
Llovera denies that cockfighting occurred on his property and says he raised roosters "for show." "It was a show for Steven Seagal and it just happened to be me," he told ABC Affiliate KNXV Television.
Llovera is claiming humiliation and emotional distress and seeks a total of $100,000 in damages, but will settle for $25,000 from both Seagal and Sheriff Joe Arpaio if they apologize, according to legal documents obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. Llovera wants Seagal to make his apology in person, in front of his children, who he says were traumatized after "the shooting and killing of their beloved dog."
Chief Deputy David Trombi from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office told KNXV Television, when asked about Llovera's claims: "That's a fabrication that is just a bunch of crap."
The sheriff's office says that he told authorities that he intended to sell the birds and was raising them "for the purpose of cockfighting because he thought cockfighting would be legalized in New Mexico." His attorney, Robert Campos, told the website azfamily.com in March that Llovera was once arrested for attending a cockfight but has no history of violence or gun use.
Llovera says in his notice of claim that he was at home at the time of the raid and was unarmed. He said members of the sheriff's office's Tactical Operations Unit used two armored trucks and a tank to smash through a gate into his yard. At least 30 SWAT personnel, dressed in riot gear and armed with handguns or rifles, rushed his home, he added.
Llovera said Seagal distracted his chickens by deploying explosives and then commandeered a sheriff's office tank and crashed through an iron gate on his property. The forces then smashed windows and the front door of his home and raided it, his notice of claim states.
After he was removed from the building, he saw a barrage of local media outlets. Producers of Seagal's show then asked him to sign a release form so they could use the footage they had captured on the program, Llovera said, adding that he refused. He said he was subjected to a "humiliation of a very public arrest" and then interrogated for about an hour and a half.
He was charged with a count of cockfighting, which was dismissed in April. Llovera was also charged with possession of steroids, which he denies. The sheriff's office say the drugs were located in a refrigerator, which was situated not far from five puppies, who were found laying on a piece of cut carpeting in the corner of a room.
The sheriff's office said that the 100 roosters' wattles were removed. Birds that possess the flap of skin underneath the beak is seen as a disadvantage during cockfighting, it said. A cage with a pair of rooster boxing gloves hanging on it was also found. The office said Llovera told authorities that the birds wore them so they would not harm the other chickens.
The sheriff's office says Llovera told authorities that he does not reside at the home and only visits to take care of it and the roosters, which he said belonged to his children. They quote him as saying that he knows he cannot keep the birds because he is on probation. After they questioned him, they turned over his home and animals to his wife.
Seagal rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with his roles in action films such as "Above The Law," "Under Siege" and its 1995 sequel. He also appeared in the movies "Executive Decision" in 1996. In addition to "Steven Seagal: Lawman," which debuted in 2009, the actor starred in the series "Elijah Kane" earlier this year.
UPDATE on September 2: Steven Seagal and Arizona authorities hae responded to Jesus Llovera's claim.