County to pay $US650,000 over arrest of suspect who fled on horseback

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A still frame from the NBC video showing the arrest.
A still frame from the NBC video showing the arrest.

A man who fled on horseback from police in California and led them on a chase through scrub for miles will receive $US650,000 from San Bernadino County over his brutal treatment when captured.

The county confirmed that it had finalized the deal with Francis Jared Pusok over his arrest in the High Desert on April 9.

The settlement comes little more than a week after the incident in which San Bernadino County deputies closed in on Pusok after he was thrown from the horse.

Some deputies then proceeded to punch and kick Pusok, despite him lying on his front and placing his hands behind his back, as if preparing to be handcuffed.

The county said it reached the deal in order to avoid litigation costs.

The terms were agreed on Friday by Pusok and his attorney, and on Tuesday the county’s Board of Supervisors gave it their unanimous backing in a closed session.

The county acknowledges no wrongdoing under the terms of the agreement, which settles all potential claims from Pusok that could stem from the incident.

“The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation,” said Board of Supervisors chairman James Ramos.

The San Bernadino County Sheriff's Office tweeted this booking photograph of Francis Pusok.
The San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Office tweeted this booking photograph of Francis Pusok.

“This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including the taxpayers.”

The circumstances surrounding Pusok’s arrest are the subject of an internal inquiry ordered by county sheriff John McMahon.

Ten deputies have been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

The arrest and beating of Pusok was captured last Thursday from NBC Los Angeles’ news chopper as it hovered overhead during the capture of Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley.

Deputies from the Victor Valley station had gone to an address in Zuni Road shortly after midday to serve a search warrant in an identity theft investigation. Pusok is alleged to have fled the location in a vehicle.

Deputies pursued him through Apple Valley, the Town of Apple Valley, and further into the unincorporated area of Hesperia.

Pusok abandoned the vehicle southwest of Bowen Ranch and fled on foot.

Within minutes, searching deputies received information that the suspect had come into contact with a group of people near the Deep Creek Hot Springs and had allegedly stolen a horse.

Pusok rode the horse through rugged terrain and along dirt trails for about five miles.

A sheriff’s helicopter dropped a team of deputies in the area to take the suspect into custody.

Deputies made contact and as they approached, the horse unseated Pusok.

A Taser was used but, according to deputies, proved ineffective due to Pusok’s loose clothing.

The aerial footage shot by NBC shows Pusok being unseated, possibly due to the police chopper being close overhead.

An officer approaches and uses what could well be a Taser. Pusok is seen to fall to the ground, spread-eagled on his front. He places his hands behind his back as officers approach.

However, Pusok then appears to be punched and kicked by several deputies. The footage also appeared to show him being struck by batons.

Pusok has been booked for felony evading, theft of a horse, possession of stolen property and an active warrant for reckless driving. Bail has been set at $US115,000.

McMahon told a press conference that he was disturbed by the content of the video, and urged people to be patient while investigations were carried out.

He confirmed that officers were wearing audio recorders, and these would form part of the investigation.

In response to a question, he said the response appeared to be excessive to him, based on what he saw in the video.

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One thought on “County to pay $US650,000 over arrest of suspect who fled on horseback

  • April 25, 2015 at 6:07 am
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    Does anyone know the extent of the injuries to the horse? It was reported that the horse suffered numerous injuries in the pursuit.

    Reply

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