Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and lawman Steven Seagal are calling claims that they killed a puppy while serving a search warrant "completely without merit," according to a statement.
Jesus Llovera submitted a notice of claim accusing the sheriff and actor of causing the death of his 11-month-old puppy during a cockfighting raid on March 9.
Volunteer posse member Steven Seagal was along for the ride during the raid, taping an episode for his reality show, "Steven Seagal: Lawman."
Arpaio had a warrant to search Llovera's Laveen home on suspicion of running a cockfighting ring.
Llovera alleges Seagal arrived at his home in a tank, backed up by dozens of deputies and SWAT Team members in riot gear. His attorney told FOX 10 it was all a stunt for Seagal's reality show.
"He had it staged. He had the film crew there, they had their cameras rolling, after the arrest of my client they hassled my client, pressured him to sign a release so they could use the film for their show," said attorney Robert Campos.
Llovera has previous arrests for cockfighting and Sheriff Arpaio says he has potential ties to a Mexican drug cartel. Sheriff Joe says the extra precautions in personnel and equipment were taken because he had received a tip that dangerous drug cartel members may be present at Llovera's house during the raid.
During the execution of that search warrant, Llovera claims his beloved family pet was shot and killed. He is asking for $100,000 in damages as well as a written apology.
"If my deputies, or posseman Seagal for that matter, had done something so awful like shooting a family dog,” says Sheriff Arpaio, "then where are the photos to prove it? Where is there any evidence by Llovera to prove this accusation and why are we only now hearing about it five months later?"
Over the course of the operation, a weapon was never even discharged, according to MCSO.
In a statement, Steven Seagal said, "I’ve been called a lot of things in my career, some of them not so kind. But to be labeled an animal abuser is beyond the pale and that is simply a role I will not
accept... Llovera wants money and his attorney wants notoriety."
Seagal is considering a defamation suit against both Llovera and his attorney, at the very least. Arpaio and Seagal say Llovera is fabricating the puppy killing story in order to win damages and gain publicity.
In regards to this incident, Llovera was indicted on one count of raising birds for cockfighting, as well as a charge of steroid possession related to raising those birds.
The case is still working its way through the legal system. Campos says Llovera is a chicken farmer and raises the birds for show, not fighting.