Stan Hilkey, Mesa County Sheriff, Blasts 'Dog The Bounty Hunter's' Apprehension Tactics

DENVER (Reuters) - Celebrity bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman received a scathing public rebuke from a western Colorado sheriff, who accused the flamboyant reality TV star of reckless showmanship in bringing his latest bail-jumper to justice.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said Chapman engaged in "profit-driven peacockery" and disregarded public safety when he delivered the injured, pepper-sprayed 29-year-old fugitive to the county jail on Wednesday while TV cameras rolled.

"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," Hilkey wrote in a blog posting.

"They also brought him in injured."

Hilkey said arrestees who have been chemically sprayed must be de-contaminated and medically cleared before they are booked into the jail, "especially (for) injuries that are inflicted by a non-governmental employee subject to no policy or use of policy restrictions."

Andrew Distel was wanted on failure-to-appear warrants on drug possession charges, sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Benjamin told Reuters. He was booked into the Mesa County jail after being treated by paramedics.

Chapman stars on the A&E cable network show "Dog the Bounty Hunter," which features the former convict, his wife and other members of his bounty-hunting team as they chase down and apprehend bail jumpers and other fugitives. His unorthodox methods and antics have stirred controversy in the past.

In 2003, Chapman was detained by Mexican authorities after they said he violated that country's laws in nabbing fugitive rapist Andrew Luster, an heir to the Max Factor cosmetic fortune. Charges against Chapman in that incident were ultimately dropped.

A&E suspended production of Chapman's show in 2007 after an audiotape surfaced of Chapman making racial slurs about his son's African-American girlfriend during a telephone call. The series resumed after Chapman made a tearful public apology to the black community.

Two years later, Chapman accused a wanted man in Colorado Springs, Colorado, of firing a gun at him and his crew as they tried to apprehend him. Authorities there declined to press charges against the man, saying there was insufficient evidence to back up Chapman's claims.

Earlier this month, the celebrity website posted a video of Chapman and his crew scuffling with other men at a Breckenridge, Colorado, restaurant as they attempted to locate a fugitive. The video shows Chapman engaging in a profanity-laced exchange with another man during the dust-up.

After Wednesday's incident, the sheriff also took a swipe at Chapman's wife, Beth, whom he said falsely accused deputies of releasing Distel when they refused to admit him until he was de-contaminated. Hilkey said his officers merely required the Chapmans to follow jail policy.

"There's no special pass for their celebrity status," he said.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston)

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