Oops: Bounty hunters try to raid Phoenix police chief's home

A group of armed bounty hunters surrounded the home of Phoenix's police chief Tuesday night, and one of them was arrested after a flawed search for a fugitive ended in a confrontation with the city's top cop, police said.

Eleven armed bounty hunters pounded on Police Chief Joseph Yahner's door about 10 p.m., sparking a fierce argument, the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

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FOR THE RECORD

5:43 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Yahner as Phoenix's interim police chief. He was appointed permanently in February.

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A swarm of officers responded to the scene and found a group of bondsmen parked on Yahner’s property with their lights shining through the windows, police said. They said one of the men was “banging on the door” and shouting into the residence.

Two bond recovery companies -- NorthStar Fugitive Recovery based in Mesa, Ariz., and Delta One Tactical Recovery -- were involved in the incident, police said. Brent Farley, the 43-year-old owner of NorthStar, was one of the bounty hunters at the scene, and he was arrested on charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, according to police.

Farley had two prior criminal convictions in Maricopa County, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to a reduced theft charge in 1998.

He was also charged with sexual misconduct with a minor in 1992. Farley pleaded not guilty to the misconduct charge, but ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

No one was injured during the incident at Yahner's home, and there was no damage done to the residence, according to a law enforcement source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation. Police said “unconfirmed information from social media” led the bounty hunters to Yahner’s home. 

The fugitive in question was a man wanted on drug charges in Oklahoma, according to police. Although officers repeatedly told the bounty hunters that the man was not at Yahner’s home, police said, they refused to leave.

Police released a cellphone video of the incident, which shows several men dressed in black circling Yahner’s home. A sport utility vehicle can be seen parked across the driveway with its headlights on, and a man is heard repeatedly shouting “open the door” as someone shines a flashlight in through the front door.

Someone inside the home, presumably Yahner, grows increasingly agitated with the bounty hunters as they continue to scream at the front door.

“I don’t give a ... who you’re looking for,” the man inside shouts at the bounty hunters before walking through the front door in his underwear.

Police also released a brief 911 call from one of Yahner’s neighbors who said the bounty hunters had been disturbing people in the neighborhood.

“We have some, I don’t know if they’re bounty hunters or what they are, but they just banged down our door and they’re looking for somebody,” the unidentified caller says.

A former business associate of Farley, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because he fears a lawsuit from Farley, said the 43-year-old left his home in Mesa because of flooding damage in September.

A judge also ordered Farley to pay $4,300 to a former landlord last year after the landlord sued him for property damage and unpaid rent, court records show.

Yahner was appointed interim chief last December, after former top cop Daniel Garcia was fired after a lengthy feud with the city's two police unions. In a bizarre spectacle, Garcia called a news conference asking to be fired, and City Manager Ed Zuercher responded by holding a news conference to fire him just two hours later.

Yahner, 51, also served as interim chief in 2011 and has been with the department for more than 30 years. He became the city's permanent chief this year.

Queally reported from Los Angeles and Duara reported from Phoenix.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

5:41 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from a former business associate of Farley and information about Farley's criminal record.

4:51 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout.

The first version of this story was published at 4:14 p.m.

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