A California sheriff is suspending 10 deputies on paid administrative leave for severely beating a man after he appeared to surrender. The man, Francis Pusok, stole a horse and led the police officers on a two-and-a-half-hour chase through the desert before finally giving up. The deputies reportedly punched him 37 times, kicked him 17 times, hit him with a baton four times, and in the end whispered in his ear “this isn’t over.” The entire incident was captured on video (see above).
According to the Washington Post, John McMahon, the sheriff in charge of the deputies said, “I am disturbed and troubled by what I see.” He was referring to a video seen now hundreds of thousands of times, clearly showing police in San Bernardino, California beating Pusok while he laid face down with his hands empty and showing.
McMahon placed the deputies on paid administrative leave, but urged patience as the investigation gets under way.
“I’m asking for some patience while we complete a thorough and fair investigation. I am disturbed and troubled by what I see in the video. It does not appear to be in line with our policies and procedures. I assure you, if there is criminal doing on the part of any of our deputy sheriffs or any policy violations, we will take action.”
The New York Post reports the deputies were trying to serve the suspect with a search warrant for an identity theft case, when he decided to make a run for it. At first Pusok got away by car, but then stole a horse and continued to lead police into the desert.
Officers became tired, dehydrated, and in some cases injured during the pursuit. The end of the chase was caught on video by a KNBC-TV news helicopter.
Afterwards, Pusok received treatment at a local California hospital for abrasion and bruises, and was charged with theft of a horse, felony evasion, and possession of stolen property.
Booking photo of Francis Pusok pic.twitter.com/nfzXxZfIAl
— SB County Sheriff (@sbcountysheriff) April 10, 2015
The sheriff says after the video was released the department received a number of threats against the suspended deputies, and has refused to release any names until they complete an investigation.
Although they’ve been suspended, some people are calling for them to be fired. Pusok’s mother Anne Clemenson told the LA Times, “I want them done.”
“I’ve always thought that police are to serve and protect and what they did… it was not called for.”
Police say Pusok is the lead suspect in the identity theft case, a claim his girlfriend Jolene Binder said, “is not true.”
“I feel like they’re trying to paint a picture of him as a bad guy and deserving of it. He was jumped.”
[Image Credit: Getty Images]