Pepper-ball pellets shot at fugitive by Dog pack
Fugitive Andrew Distel appeared to have been shot as many as 10 to 12 times with pepper-ball pellets during an encounter with television bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman, Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said Thursday.
Hilkey said those observations were made by Sheriff’s Department staff Wednesday afternoon after Distel was booked at the Mesa County Jail, noting wounds “up and down” Distel’s arm, hip and a leg, among other places.
Chapman’s crew told jail staff they shot at Distel with the pepper rounds after Distel, who was wanted on a pair of felony arrest warrants, ran from them.
The pellets consist of an irritant powder form of pepper spray, which explode into a cloud upon impact.
Hilkey, who wrote a scathing critique of Chapman’s delivery of Distel, said in his blog Wednesday that Distel was pepper-sprayed “excessively.”
“I don’t know if it’s justified or not,” Hilkey said Thursday.
As of late Thursday afternoon, Distel had not requested the Sheriff’s Department undertake a criminal investigation of the matter, and none was planned, Hilkey said.
Such a probe would be problematic on many levels, he said.
“The truth of the matter is bondsmen have a tremendous amount of leeway (under law) with these people,” Hilkey said.
Phone messages left by The Daily Sentinel on Thursday with Chapman and his wife, Beth, were not immediately returned.
Hilkey said jail staff initially refused to accept Distel, who reeked of pepper spray in the public lobby of the Sheriff’s Department when brought there by Chapman’s team, until he was medically cleared and cleaned in compliance with department policy.
Hilkey accused Beth Chapman of offering a “guilt trip” to Sheriff’s Department staff, while suggesting they were “releasing” Chapman’s catch.
“We simply made them follow the rules that all of us have to follow,” Hilkey said.
In a series of posts to Twitter, Beth Chapman shot back Thursday.
“I’m sure that the judge that ordered that defendant’s arrest wouldn’t share the stupid views of the sheriff,” Chapman wrote in a post.
“The sheriff needs to get over his jealousy and get 2 work,” she wrote in another post.
“It’s your job 2 take in wanted fugitives or wanted parties regardless if they are dirty or not! When the show airs this sheriff will indeed look stupid due to his own ignorance!”
Duane and Beth Chapman also talked to The Associated Press on Thursday, revealing the following:
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.”
Duane 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 more details, saying they didn’t want to spoil the upcoming episode for viewers of their A&E network show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
Duane Chapman said his staff decontaminated Distel, cleaned him, gave him a new shirt, fed him and offered medical help, but Distel didn’t want it.
“To me, it was one of the best shows we ever shot,” Duane Chapman said.
He added that he woke up Thursday and saw media accounts of what happened and “saw that someone really told that sheriff a crock.”
Duane 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.
Duane Chapman’s dealings have drawn law enforcement scrutiny in the past.
In 2003, he was detained by Mexican authorities who alleged Chapman violated the country’s law in the process of apprehending a fugitive, according to Reuters news service.
Charges were dropped.
In 2009, Chapman accused a fugitive of firing a gun at him and his crew as they tried to arrest the fugitive.
Police in Colorado Springs declined to prosecute the fugitive, citing a lack of evidence to support Chapman’s story.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.