Video captured of a group of San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies kicking and punching a suspect who led the police on a chase while on horseback has prompted an internal investigation into the arrest, the LA Times reports.
On Thursday, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon ordered the investigation, calling the video captured by NBC Los Angeles’ NewsChopper4 camera “disturbing.” The video shows deputies swarming the suspect, beating him, and stunning him with a Taser after he fell off the horse. At one point, the suspect’s hands seem to be tied behind his back, but the beating does not cease.
Police reportedly chased the suspect, who has been identified as 30-year-old Francis Pusok, by helicopter, foot, and vehicle. The incident, which lasted about two minutes, involved as many as 11 deputies, the Times writes.
“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,” McMahon said. Deputies are equipped with digital audio recorders, which will be reviewed by investigators along with video footage and interviews with witnesses, McMahon said.
“We’ll figure out exactly what happened and proceed from there whether there was criminal wrongdoing on the part of our deputies,” McMahon said.
Former Los Angeles Police Capt. Greg Meyer, an expert on police use of force, described the video as “ugly.” “This is a highly concerning video,” Meyer said.
Meyer pointed out that Pusok “obviously surrendered” and followed commands to keep his hands behind his back. At that time, deputies were supposed to get him handcuffed. “But it didn’t happen, and they will have to answer for the force they used on him,” Meyer added.
Pusok’s actions will also be investigated, according to the Times. Police say he was the “prime suspect” in an alleged identify theft. When deputies arrived at a home in Apple Valley to serve a search warrant around noon, Pusok took off in a car. During the chase, Pusok dumped the vehicle and reportedly stole a horse from a group at Deep Creek Hot Springs.
Pusok was taken to the hospital after the beating. It’s unclear what injuries he sustained. The horse involved in the chase was also injured, but released to its owner for medical attention.
Three deputies were also taken to the hospital for dehydration, the Times reports.