A man pursued by Duane “Dog” Chapman has sued the television bounty hunter and his crew, alleging they falsely claimed he had fired a gun at them in a Colorado Springs parking lot while filming an episode in April 2009.
Hoang Minh Phung Nguyen contends that Chapman, his sons Duane Chapman II and Leland Blane Chapman and local bail bondsman Bobby Brown defamed him and had him falsely arrested.
Nguyen also claims the Chapmans injured him by firing pepper pellets as he fled on a motorcycle during the April 21, 2009 incident outside the Galley Apartments at 3617 E. Uintah Avenue.
At the time, Nguyen was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a domestic violence case. At the time, Brown had posted a $12,000 bond for Nguyen. Chapman and Brown later caught up with Nguyen and turned him over to police.
Following the incident, Colorado Springs police arrested Nguyen on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder, menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
However, after reviewing the evidence, prosecutors declined to file charges, saying they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In May 2009, Nguyen’s public defender tried to convince a judge to order the district attorney to file false reporting charges against Chapman. However, the judge denied that motion.
The lawsuit - filed in April 2010 - was the subject of a brief scheduling conference Tuesday. If a mediation session fails to produce a settlement, the case is set for a six-day trial before 4th Judicial District Judge G. David Miller on Nov. 28.
The suit also names as defendants Chapman’s company DA Kine Bail Bonds, Inc. and Hybrid Films, a New York City firm that serves as the production company for the cable television program “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
According to the lawsuit, Nguyen, 37, lost his job in Colorado Springs as a result of the incident and had to relocate to Denver.
Steven D. Zansberg, the lawyer for the defendants, has denied the allegations and countered that to a limited extent, Nguyen was a public figure and that his clients’ statement involved “matters of legitimate public interest and concern.”
As such, Zansberg argued that Nguyen is not entitled to recover damages unless he can prove that the statements about him were made with either knowledge or a high degree of awareness that they were false.
He contends the defendants used reasonable force in their effort to “lawfully apprehend a fugitive pursuant to a valid warrant for his arrest.”
Zansberg has served as attorney for The Gazette. Nguyen is represented by Colorado Springs lawyers Jennifer W. Stock, Edward T. Farry Jr. and Patric J. LeHouillier.
For more court coverage, visit “The Sidebar” blog at gazette.com