back to top

California Man In Videotaped Police Beating Says He Was In Cuffs 99% Of The Time

The 30-year-old man who was videotaped being beaten by police after he tried to flee on a horse, said in an interview with NBC News on Monday that he was handcuffed during 99% of the incident.

Originally posted on
Updated on
vine.co

Frank Pusok, the 30-year-old California man who was videotaped being beaten by police officers after he tried to flee on a horse, told NBC News on Monday that he was handcuffed during 99% of the incident.

Pusok said after the beating stopped, a deputy whispered to him: "This isn't over."

Deputies said they were serving a warrant at the house Pusok was visiting when he fled. Pusok told NBC News that he ran "because any contact with the police has been negative for me."

Court records show Pusok has a criminal record, which includes resisting an officer in 2013.

Pusok described the beating to NBC News, recalling how he was shot with the Taser once before he was handcuffed and then twice more afterward.

Jolene Bindner, Pusok's girlfriend, said even she hadn't heard some of the shocking details.

"You're feeling every punch, kick, hit, Taser hit," she said. "They were trying to suffocate him."

The FBI has launched its own investigation into the beating of a California man by deputies at the end of a pursuit, officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

The investigation will look into whether the civil rights of Francis Pusok were violated during the pursuit and altercation with deputies, FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said in a written statement.

The investigation comes after 10 San Bernardino County deputies were placed on administrative leave after they were recorded beating Pusok, who appeared to have surrendered in a pursuit involving a stolen horse.

Sheriff John McMahon said Friday his department was beginning an internal investigation, and that similar use-of-force investigations were handled in-house by the department.

The FBI's parallel investigation will be forwarded to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Eimiller said.

Ten deputies from Southern California were placed on paid administrative leave after video showed them kicking and beating a man at the end of a pursuit.

Sheriff John McMahon of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department on Friday said an internal investigation has been launched to investigate the use of force, which he said appeared to be excessive.

"I'm deeply disturbed by this video," McMahon said. "If there is criminal wrongdoing in part of our deputy sheriffs, or any policy violations, we will take action."

The suspect in the video, 30-year-old Francis Pusok, was treated at a nearby hospital for multiple cuts and bruises, McMahon said. He was released Thursday night and booked in county jail.

Pusok was bailed out of jail Sunday night, and his girlfriend, Joelene Bindner, said he was still injured.

"His head hurts, his legs are weak," she told NBC4. "He's just really feeling the soreness in his body."

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

The video shows a group of sheriff's deputies kicking a man in the head and groin at the end of a chase involving a stolen horse Thursday as a news helicopter recorded the violent encounter overhead.

The video, captured by KNBC-TV, showed as many as 13 uniformed deputies delivering blows to a man surrendering on the ground in the desert.

McMahon said the department's analysis of the video shows that 10 deputies, including a sergeant and a detective, used force during the arrest.

The suspect was identified by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department as Francis Pusok, a 30-year-old resident from Apple Valley, a community about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The video raised serious concerns about the use of force by the deputies, and Sheriff John McMahon told BuzzFeed News in a written statement he had ordered an internal investigation into the matter.

"The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately," he said.

The deputies first approached Pusok around 12:15 p.m. at his home in Apple Valley in connection to an identity theft case, the Los Angeles Times reported. Pusok fled in a car, chased by deputies.

The suspect then abandoned the car in an unicorporated area, stealing a horse at Deep Creek Hot Springs to continue his flight. The deputies caught up with him around 3 p.m. in the vicinity of Highway 173.

McMahon said some of the deputies involved in the pursuit had previous encounters with Pusok at his home, including an incident where he had threatened a deputy and where he shot a puppy during a domestic disturbance call.

"We were really familiar with his aggressive nature," he said.

In the video, however, Pusok appears to place his hands behind his back after being thrown from a stolen horse, just before two deputies begin to kick him.

McMahon said deputies pursued Pusok through about four miles of rugged terrain and caught up with him after a helicopter dropped several deputies in the area near him.

Pusok is seen spreading his limbs on the ground when a uniformed officer with the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is seen running toward him and kicking him in the head. A second deputy delivers another kick to the suspect's groin from behind.

According to a statement from the sheriff's department, the Taser was ineffective because of Pusok's loose clothing.

The two deputies then deliver multiple kicks, punches, and knees to Pusok, who is no longer visible. One of the deputies, lying above the suspect, appears to strike him in the head with the Taser in his hand.

Three more deputies run toward the man, with one quickly kicking the man in the head.

As more deputies arrive and crowd Pusok, one of the first deputies turns away from the group and takes a knee.

McMahon said two deputies suffered cuts and a twisted knee, and one deputy suffered a back injury after being kicked by the horse.

McMahon said he is confident the deputies involved in the incident would have reported the use of force, but acknowledged the video taken from the news helicopter provided investigators with detail that may not have been available otherwise.

"Would we have the facts and details we have today without the video?" McMahon asked. "Probably not."

Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

Nicolás Medina Mora is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Nicolás Medina Mora at nicolas.mora@buzzfeed.com.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Honolulu.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.