APPLE VALLEY-(VVNG.com): The names of ten deputies involved in what appeared to be the use of excessive force against Francis Pusok have been released. The ten deputies, including a Sergeant and a Detective continue to be on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of a criminal and administrative investigation.
On Thursday, April 9th the deputies went to a home on Zuni Road to serve a search warrant that had to do with an identity theft which was unrelated to Pusok. Pusok believing it was a probation sweep fled the location in a vehicle. He led deputies on a pursuit through Apple Valley and Hesperia before he abandoned the vehicle southwest of Bowen Ranch then continuing to flee on foot.
The deputies continued actively searching for Pusok on foot, facilitating the use of off-road vehicles and helicopters. Just minutes into the search deputies received information that Pusok came in contact with a group of people near Deep Creek Hot Springs stealing their horse. He fled on horseback through rough and steep terrain, which caused injuries to the horse.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department press release when deputies approached him the horse threw him off. When the Taser was used it was proven to be ineffective due to the loose clothing Pusok was wearing. News helicopters recorded as the suspect was taken into custody, catching what appeared to be the use of excessive force as Pusok laid on the ground. In the video you can clearly see numerous deputies kicking and hitting Pusok for several minutes until his body laid on the ground without movement.
In a statement Sheriff John McMahon responded by saying, “The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately” He further stated, “In addition, members of the Specialized Investigation Detail are responding to conduct the criminal investigation.”
McMahon immediately, on Thursday evening, called for an administrative and criminal investigation into the conduct of the ten deputies. On Friday morning, the ten deputies were placed on administrative leave. Two deputies were injured during the pursuit, the injuries consisted of dehydration, abrasions, a twisted knee and a back injury from being struck by the horse. Pusok was treated for minor injuries consisting of abrasions and bruising. He was treated for his injuries, then transported to West Valley detention center for booking for felony evading, Theft of a Horse, Possession of Stolen Property and an active warrant for Reckless Driving. Bail was set at $115,000.
The names of the deputies involved were not immediately released due to multiple threatening calls, emails and social media posts. All involved deputies were from the Victor Valley Station and include: Deputy Nicholas Downey, Deputy Scott Hamilton, Deputy David Moore, Deputy Dominic Moody, Detective William Doemner, Sergeant James Evans, Deputy Michael Phelps, Deputy Raymond Perez, Deputy Tyler McGee, and Deputy Charles Foster.
Pusok was awarded a $650,000 from the county of San Bernardino. The county admits to no wrong-doing in the settlement, but the settlement will protect them from any further legal actions. A check in the amount of $619,122.86 was cut on April 28th, $30,877 withheld for a child support claim.
According to San Bernardino County court records, there are no pending court appearances scheduled as a result of the Evading, Horse Theft, Possession of Stolen Property and/or the active Reckless Driving Warrant.