Some former action stars go into politics. Others, like Steven Seagal, parlay their martial arts and beefcake backgrounds into a reality show career so they can terrorize real life civilians instead of just movie set extras. That’s at least what unfolded in Arizona when Seagal, who has unfettered access to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for his A&E television show, "Steven Seagal Lawman", showed up in a Phoenix’s West Valley neighborhood to break up a suspected cockfighting operation.
Phoenix’s KPHO reported that SWAT vans and sirens came blazing down the block on March 9, and shocked neighbors with their wild antics.
Neighbor Debra Ross was so worried she called 911 and went outside where a nearby home had its windows blown out, was crawling with dozens of SWAT members in full gear, armored vehicles and a bomb robot.
"When the tank came in and pushed the wall over and you see what’s in there, and all it is, is a bunch of chickens," Ross said.
The law enforcement officers smashed through the front wall of the house, which belongs to Jesus Llovera, who was found alone and unarmed in his home. Llovera’s 115 chickens were euthanized on the spot.
"I’ve been doing law enforcement for over 20 years," Seagal told reporters that day, Phoenix’s KTAR reported. He’s also filming the third season of his ratings hit.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, no stranger to publicity stunts, said that day that Seagal is "working with us on law enforcement activity and he’s a member of my posse."
Arpaio’s since had to defend his use of force, if not Seagal’s presence in town.
"We had good intel that this guy could be armed," Arpaio told KTVK. "[The heavy equipment] was needed for officer protection."
Locals are unconvinced. Arizona is facing an unprecedented deficit, and Phoenix has had to lay off actual police officers to deal with its budget shortfall.
"With all the things going on," Llovera’s neighbor Howard Marshall said, "the sheriff’s using all those resources to deal with some chickens?"
Seagal arrived in Arizona from Louisiana, where he was kicked out of town after he was sued for sex trafficking and sexual assault after years of a similar arrangement with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.