Another day, another disturbing video of alleged police brutality. This time, a horseback rider was the recipient of a vicious beatdown after the alleged horse thief was ejected off the horse and then attacked from all sides with a flurry of kicks and punches. In all, 11 sheriff’s deputies had surrounded the suspect by the video’s end; many of them are seen walloping the downed man.
Writes NBC4 out of Southern California on March 10: “The San Bernardino County Sheriff ordered an internal investigation Thursday into an arrest caught on NBC Los Angeles’ NewsChopper4 video that showed deputies beating a suspect when they caught up to him following a wild desert chase on horseback. Aerial footage showed the man falling off the horse he was suspected of stealing during the pursuit in San Bernardino County Thursday afternoon.”
Video shows the suspect falling off the horse after the animal makes an abrupt stop. A deputy then comes from around a bush and hits the man with a taser, who appears to have his hands up. While the man is on the ground with his hands at first to his side and then placed behind his back – either as directed by the officers or in anticipation of being cuffed – he is beaten with a flurry of blows from two deputies.
It doesn’t appear as if the man was resisting arrest. Deputies later said the taser was ineffective because of the suspect’s loose clothing.
Adds NBC4: “In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times, punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head.”
Sheriff John McMahon acknowledged the video, but cautioned over drawing conclusions.
“It is disturbing and it appears on its face that there are violations of policy, but that will ultimately be determined in the investigation and to what degree. We’ll figure out exactly what happened and proceed from there whether there was criminal wrongdoing on the part of our deputies,” said McMahon, who has since ordered an investigation after seeing the footage.
The suspect was identified as 30-year-old Francis Pusok, from Apple Valley. Pusok was on the ground for nearly 45 minutes before he was taken to a hospital. The extent of his injuries has not been released.
Pusok’s mother, Anne Clemenson, said today that she cannot even find out herself what her son was accused of doing, or his condition.
“To me, it was like a joyride for the cops to do this to him. (It was) brutality. He didn’t deserve something like that. To tase him, the beatings that I see them doing to him — it’s uncalled for. You see him lying down, and they continue to kick him, hitting him and punching him. Why?” Clemenson asked.
Deputies had initially descended on a home in Victor Valley to serve a search warrant in an identity theft investigation. Pusok fled the home and drove away in a vehicle, leading cops on a 40-mile chase through unincorporated Apple Valley and Hesperia. After the pursuit, Pusok abandoned his vehicle, stole a horse from a ranch and took off on dirt trails.
After the lengthy, two-hour pursuit, involving dozens of deputies and a police helicopter, it appears Pusok was pummeled without cause.
“I can certainly understand the concerns in the community based on what they saw on the video,” McMahon said. “I’m disturbed by what I see in the video. But I don’t need to jump to conclusions at this point, until we do a complete and thorough investigation. If our deputy sheriff’s did something wrong, they’ll be put off work and they’ll be dealt with appropriately, all in accordance with the law as well as our department policy.”
Adds MSNBC: “Cynthia Bachman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, said that two deputies were being treated for dehydration and that a third was injured. That deputy was kicked by the horse, which was also injured during the pursuit, the sheriff’s statement said.”
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Was this horseback thief beaten with excessive force? What are your thoughts after seeing the police helicopter footage of this disturbing video?