Po­lice put on leave af­ter vi­o­lent ar­rest of horse thief in Cal­i­for­nia


A Cal­i­for­nia sher­iff placed 10 deputies on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave Fri­day af­ter news video recorded the vi­o­lent ar­rest of a man flee­ing au­thor­i­ties on horse.

The beat­ing came as re­cent vi­o­lent episodes by of­fi­cers deal­ing with sus­pects have pro­voked out­rage af­ter be­ing cap­tured on video, in­clud­ing the shoot­ing death of an un­armed man as he ran from a po­lice of­fi­cer last week­end in South Carolina.

In Cal­i­for­nia, San Bernardino County Sher­iff John McMa­hon said the video “dis­turbed and trou­bled him” and ap­peared to show an ex­ces­sive use of force.

McMa­hon an­nounced the ac­tion af­ter 30-year-old Fran­cis Pu­sok was ar­rested by deputies in a vi­o­lent en­counter filmed by a KNBCTV he­li­copter. Pu­sok fled by car and then on a stolen horse, trav­el­ing sev­eral miles while deputies chased him on foot, af­ter deputies tried to serve a search war­rant in an iden­tity-theft in­ves­ti­ga­tion Thurs­day.

The video shows the man dressed in bright red cloth­ing fall­ing from the horse as a deputy runs up and uses a stun gun on him. McMa­hon said the stun gun was be­lieved to be in­ef­fec­tive be­cause of the man’s loose cloth­ing.

The man falls face down with his arms and legs out­stretched and put his hands be­hind his back. The video shows two deputies ap­pear­ing to come up and kick him in the head and crotch. Other deputies ar­rive mo­ments later.

Two deputies re­ceived in­juries in­clud­ing abra­sions, a twisted knee and a back in­jury from be­ing struck by the horse. Pu­sok had abra­sions and bruis­ing. He was booked on sus­pi­cion of felony evad­ing, theft of a horse, pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty and reck­less driv­ing.

McMa­hon said there is an in­ter­nal and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which looks at Pu­sok’s and the deputies’ ac­tions.

He said the depart­ment won’t re­lease the names of deputies, in­clud­ing a sergeant and a de­tec­tive, un­til they’re sure that mul­ti­ple threats made aren’t valid.

The deputies were wear­ing au- dio recorders, but McMa­hon said he had not lis­tened to them and the record­ings will be part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

At­tor­neys for Pu­sok told KNBCTV Fri­day as they left the jail that their client has a badly swollen eye, marks from the beat­ing over his face and body, and is in pain.

“He re­mem­bers be­ing beat, and he re­mem­bers that he wasn’t re­sist­ing, that he laid still, he com­plied im­me­di­ately. He says that he didn’t even move a mus­cle be­cause he didn’t want to be con­tin­u­ously beat, yet it still hap­pened,” said at­tor­ney Sharon Brun­ner.

Af­ter the beat­ing, a deputy whis­pered in his ear: “This isn’t over,”’ at­tor­ney Jim Ter­rell said.

“And that’s why he’s scared to death for him­self and his fam­ily right now,” Ter­rell said.


In this frame from video pro­vided by KNBC-TV, of­fi­cers beat and kick a man near Ap­ple Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia on Thurs­day, April 9.

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