Rider accused of overworking stolen horse while fleeing from police

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, later receiving a $US650,000 settlement from San Bernadino County over his brutal treatment by deputies when captured, has been charged with a raft of offences, including overworking a horse.

Francis Jared Pusok led officers on a chase through miles of scrub in the High Desert on April 9.

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

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

San Bernadino County deputies had closed in on Pusok after he was thrown from the horse.

The video shows deputies apparently punching and kicking Pusok, despite him lying on his front and placing his hands behind his back, as if preparing to be handcuffed.

Ten deputies in all were placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Now, Pusok faces a series of charges laid out in a felony complaint filed with the Superior Court of California.

He stands accused of evading an officer over his attempt to flee in a vehicle, resisting or obstructing an officer, doing $US400 worth of damage to a chain-link fence, theft of a horse, and cruelty to the animal in that he allegedly overworked it.

Pusok is further accused of being under the influence of amphetamine and marijuana on the day, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

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.

He also faces vehicle-related counts from several days before the April 9 incident, and charges of receiving stolen property.

The high-profile incident that led to Pusok’s arrest began when 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.

The complaint can be read here

One thought on “Rider accused of overworking stolen horse while fleeing from police

  • August 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    That horse was abused and terrified.


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