Home / National News / FBI Launches Civil Rights Investigation Over Alleged Beating Video


(SAN BERNANDINO, Calif.) — The FBI has launched a civil rights investigation into a video that appears to show sheriff’s deputies beating a man in California after he attempted to get away on horseback.

Ten San Bernardino County deputies were put on paid administrative leave following the release of the video, Sheriff John McMahon said Friday.

KNBC-TV captured the video from a helicopter on Thursday. It shows the deputies pursuing the suspect, identified as Francis Jared Pusok, who is riding on a horse through a desert-like landscape, and then appearing to beat him after he is lying on the ground.

McMahon said he was “disturbed and troubled” by the video.

“It doesn’t appear to be in line with our policies and procedures,” McMahon said.

McMahon said his department has launched an internal investigation regarding the use of force, and members of the Specialized Investigations Detail are conducting a criminal investigation into the actions of Pusok, 30, and the deputies involved.

Pusok had fled a home where police were attempting to serve a search warrant in connection with an identity theft investigation, McMahon said, but didn’t expect to see Pusok or anybody else at the residence. On a prior occasion, authorities had seen Pusok shoot a puppy, he added, and for that reason and others believed he had an “aggressive nature,” McMahon said.

Though he wasn’t the target of the home search, Pusok fled the scene in a vehicle and failed to yield when sheriff’s deputies tried to stop him, McMahon said, speculating that he may have feared he was being approached over a potential parole violation.

Pusok later ditched the vehicle and stole a horse, and he later was booked on suspicion of felony evading, theft of a horse, possession of stolen property and reckless driving, McMahon said. Pusok tentatively is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 12:30 p.m. via video in Victorville Superior Court, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office tweeted.

The chase continued for miles through rough terrain, with Pusok on horseback and officers the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol on foot, in vehicles and in helicopters, McMahon said.

When Pusok falls off the horse, two officers, who the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said were from its Victor Valley Station, can be seen on the news video approaching him and appearing to stun him with a Taser.

Pusok then falls face down on the ground with his arms spread out, barely moving. That’s when the two officers on the scene appear to kick Pusok in the head and groin, and to punch his back repeatedly. Immediately, Pusok puts his hands behind his back and does not appear to resist.

Pusok’s injuries included abrasions and bruising, according to police. He was treated a hospital before being moved to a detention center.

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