The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, with actor Steven Seagal in tow, stormed a Phoenix-area home on Monday in what some are calling a misuse of force. According to eyewitnesses, SWAT forces blew the windows out of a home suspected of running a cockfighting ring before rolling over its walls with armored vehicles and a tank. Seagal, who was filming an episode of his reality cop show, Lawman, was riding in the tank.
Neighbor Debra Ross was not amused. Terrified, she called 911 because of the ruckus, but she soon relaxed when she saw what all the commotion was about. "When the tank came in and pushed the wall over and you see what's in there," she told a local news station, "and all it is is a bunch of chickens."
"With all the things going on, the Sheriff is using all those resources to deal with some chickens," another neighbor said.
Those chickens belonged to Jesus Llovera, who was indeed keeping hundreds of roosters on his property, probably for cockfighting. He's now been charged with 115 felony counts of "owning, possessing, keeping or training roosters with the intent to fight."
Commenting on the method with which police apprehended Llovera, who was asleep and unarmed when the tank showed up, Llovera's lawyer said he estimates the sheriff's departments unnecessarily spent tens of thousands of dollars on the operation. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, however, who was present at the raid, said he thought force was warranted: "I am going to protect my deputies. If I have to use a SWAT team, I am going to use a SWAT team."
Police in Maricopa County have been threatened with layoffs for months now due to budget shortfalls. Maybe they should think about selling that tank?