Originally published on April 11, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Ten San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, including a sergeant and a detective, were placed on paid administrative leave Friday after a news helicopter captured video of them savagely beating a suspect who had surrendered. After reviewing the video, San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon accused the deputies of using excessive force and suspended them pending an investigation into the incident. Although the sheriff admitted that the deputies involved in the initial pursuit had a history with the suspect, McMahon would not confirm whether the suspended deputies were familiar with him or not.
At 12:12 p.m. on Thursday, deputies arrived at Francis Pusok’s home in Apple Valley to serve a search warrant involving an identity theft investigation. According to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman, Pusok was already sitting inside a car when the deputies approached his residence. Pusok fled in the vehicle prompting a near three-hour pursuit through the desert.
After Pusok abandoned his vehicle and ran into the desert, the sheriff’s department and California Highway Patrol deployed helicopters and off-road vehicles to continue pursuing him. A few minutes later, the deputies received a report that Pusok had stolen a horse from a group of people near Deep Creek Hot Springs. As the deputies tracked down Pusok and made contact with him around 3 p.m., Pusok fell off the stolen horse.
According to the sheriff’s department, deputies used a Taser on Pusok but it was rendered ineffective due to his loose clothing. But video shot from NBC4’s helicopter revealed Pusok surrendering to the deputies by lying facedown with his hands behind his back when one cop appears to repeatedly punch Pusok in the head. The other deputy kicked Pusok in the groin as he remained on the ground.