GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (AP) -- Surveillance videos in the Grand Junction, Colorado, lobby of the sheriff's department show people having coughing fits after a pepper-sprayed fugitive was delivered by Duane "Dog" Chapman.
The videos back up claims by the Mesa County sheriff that the star of the A&E show "Dog the Bounty Hunter" excessively pepper-sprayed the fugitive during a scuffle on July 20 and then took him in without decontaminating him.
The videos were released Wednesday after The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel requested them under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Chapman and his wife said they didn't understand why the sheriff was upset because the suspect, Andrew Distel, was cleaned and fed.
In a blog entry titled "Humility vs Peacockery," Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey explains,
I'm sure that versions vary, but what was clear was a physical confrontation between the "skip" and Dog himself. During the scuffle the skip was pepper-sprayed excessively and Dog conveniently had his tear-away shirt ripped off, all the time the action cameras were rolling and everyone was salivating in the drama at 215 Rice Street.
Ok, I get it; you have a show to produce. Shows need drama. Drama is easy to create and capture in this business. Fine, do your thing and move on to the next revenue-generating activity. What happened inside the lobby though is what is most troubling to me. While Dog stayed outside, shirtless and sweaty, prancing back and forth waving his golden locks for the camera, his team brought this freshly pepper-sprayed fellow into the enclosed space of the Sheriff’s Office lobby with other citizens present. They also brought him in injured.
Here are two things that you should know about what all cops have to do in this situation before they come to jail. If someone is pepper-sprayed in the field they should have an ambulance called to decontaminate the most acute problems of being sprayed. Eyes flushed, nose and mouth checked for proper breathing etc, and immediately affected clothing removed to keep from further contamination. The other thing is if someone is brought in injured or obviously ill they must be medically checked and cleared before being accepted into the jail. Remember, we are spending tax payer money and it is ill advised to adopt the financial burdens of things that happened prior to the arrival of the person to jail, especially injuries that are inflicted by a non-governmental employee subject to no policy or use of force restrictions.
So without any regard for contaminating the other citizens in the lobby of the Sheriffs' Office, or the employees of the Sheriff's Office, they just march this injured, contaminated mess in and expect us to jump and ask for an autograph??? Sorry, but staff did what they would do with anyone, including police officers, who bring someone to jail injured and chemically contaminated. They said, "Nope"...you need to get this person medically fixed up and decontaminated prior to us accepting him. Good news was that someone during the chaos did call the ambulance so the fellow was able to have those problems addressed in the front lot rather than at a local hospital. Not before however, Mrs. Dog attempted to lay a big ol' guilt trip on our staff about "releasing" their catch and educating us about what our judges would think of us. The truth is we didn't release him at all. We simply made them follow the rules that all of us have to follow. There's no special pass for their celebrity status here.
For all those "Dog" lovers out there that love him for catching the "bad guys", I've seen quiet, humble bondsman and bounty hunters bring in their "skips" without incident, without cameras, without a caravan of black SUVs, without drama, many, many times in the last 25 years. I doubt that I'll ever hear any remorse from Dog or his crew about their disregard for the effect of their antics on innocent citizens and staff of the Sheriff’s Office, and I'm sure somehow or another we'll be portrayed as nothing more than inefficient government employees when the show airs, but at least for me it was an interesting contrast in watching 30 year humble professionals vs. genuine profit-driven peacockery. (I know, that’s not a real word...but it paints the picture.)
Distel was wanted on warrants for failure to appear in two felony cases involving possession of methamphetamine.