K-9 handler files claim accusing sheriff of malicious prosecution

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Lovejoy filed notice of claim

PHOENIX - It began with a K-9 called Bandit and has turned into a dogfight between two officers of the law.

3TV has developing news in the fight between former K-9 handler Thomas Lovejoy and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. When Sergeant Lovejoy left his K-9 "Bandit" in a hot car for 12 hours, Sheriff Arpaio arrested him and prosecutors took him to court. Now it appears Lovejoy is returning that favor.

He and his family have taken the first steps toward a lawsuit against the sheriff. They have filed a notice of claim alleging "malicious prosecution" by Sheriff Arpaio.

In the claim, Lovejoy's attorney accused the sheriff of "abuse of power" and "tough guy TV theatrics."

It alleges the sheriff knew there was little evidence to build an animal cruelty case against Lovejoy but took the case on in order to gain notoriety.

The claim reads, in part: "Despite the obvious lack of merit to criminally prosecuting Sgt. Lovejoy, Sheriff Arpaio and the MCSO proceeded and demanded that the case proceed because they wanted to make a public spectacle of Mr. Lovejoy as the animal abuser, even while they ignore their own officers' involvement in deaths of vulnerable human beings and their own canine deaths."

It is a sentiment that echoes Lovejoy's own words shortly after he was found not guilty in Bandit's death.

Nevertheless Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he was simply doing his job when he arrested Lovejoy and was "treating him like anyone else."

When asked about the lawsuit Wednesday the sheriff said he was not worried.