For over 45 minutes, Francis Jared Pusok, 30, lay on the ground without receiving any medical attention after San Bernardino County Sheriff Department officers unleashed a brutal beating on him that was captured by helicopter news cameras.
The melee started as a three-hour chase came to an close in the most unlikely of settings: in the middle of the desert, with Pusok falling off the allegedly stolen horse he was riding.
As news cameras watched from above, Pusok was stunned with a Taser after falling off the horse, at which point he appears to stretch out his arms in submission. Two deputies fall upon him and begin punching, kicking and kneeing him in the groin.
Before long, eleven officers are on the scene participating in the beating, which lasts about two minutes. NBC Los Angeles, whose cameras captured the incident, counted: “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.”
“The horse stood idly nearby,” the station noted.
Immediately, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told NBC Los Angeles that he is launching an internal investigation into what the video shows.
“I’m not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect,” McMahon said. “It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I’m not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly.”
Pusok has been hospitalized with unknown injuries, the station reported.
The whole ordeal started as deputies went to a home to serve a search warrant related to an identity theft investigation, police said in a news release.
At that time, Pusok took off in a car, which he later abandoned, when he took off on foot. At some point the authorities believe that he stole the horse, which he started riding across the rugged desert terrain, causing “numerous injuries to the horse,” reported NBC.
Three officers were also injured in the chase, the station reported. “Two suffered dehydration and a third was injured when kicked by the horse. All three were taken to a hospital for treatment.”
“I can certainly understand the concerns in the community based on what they saw on the video,” said chief McMahon. “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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement about the occurrence, saying it is “deeply troubled by the video images that appear to show San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies beating a man after he surrendered.”