POSTED: 4:45 a.m. HST, Jul 22, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 7:20 a.m. HST, Jul 22, 2011
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.>> A Colorado sheriff has a bone to pick with Duane “Dog” Chapman, star of the A&E show “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said on a blog that Chapman excessively pepper-sprayed a fugitive during a scuffle and then took him into the sheriff’s office Wednesday without decontaminating the man first.
Sheriff’s staffers and the public were in danger, while Chapman stayed outside “prancing back and forth waving his golden locks for the camera,” Hilkey wrote on the blog. He likened the TV bounty hunter’s work to “genuine profit-driven peacockery.”
Authorities aren’t investigating why the suspect was pepper-sprayed, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported.
Chapman and his wife, Beth, said told The Associated Press on Thursday that they were puzzled by the sheriff’s reaction.
“I don’t know what his beef is. I don’t understand his gripe,” Beth Chapman said. “We caught a dangerous felon.”
Court records show that suspect they rounded up was wanted on warrants for failure to appear in two felony cases involving possession of methamphetamine, according to the Sentinel.
Chapman said one of his staff shot a pepper-ball gun at the suspect and the powder-like spray shot over everybody in the immediate area. The Chapmans declined to disclose the details, saying they didn’t want to spoil the episode for viewers.
Chapman said his staff decontaminated the man, cleaned him, gave him a new shirt and fed him. The man was also offered medical help, but didn’t want it, Chapman said.
“To me, it was one of the best shows we ever shot,” Chapman said.
Then he woke up Thursday and saw media accounts of what happened and “saw that someone really told that sheriff a crock,” Chapman said.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said staffers told the sheriff that the suspect, Andrew Distel, 29, of Grand Junction, wasn’t properly cleaned before he was taken into the jail. She said some people began coughing and the doors had to be opened to air out the building.
Hilkey was also disappointed that the arrival of Chapman and his entourage diverted attention from a ceremony honoring county employees, Benjamin said.
It was the first time Benjamin can remember that Chapman, who used to live in Colorado, has delivered someone to the western Colorado jail.
Chapman said a previous episode shot in Mesa County was one of the show’s top-rated. He said he would like to talk to the sheriff and maybe run for the office after he retires from TV.
In the meantime, Chapman said, the incident was great publicity for the eighth season of the show starting in October.