San Bernardino County deputies identified in horse-pursuit beating

Deputies identified in Apple Valley pursuit beating

Ten deputies seen on TV news kicking and beating a man after he surrendered following a horse pursuit in Apple Valley have been identified by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Francis Pusok, 30, led deputies on an hours-long chase April 9 that began after they arrived to serve a search warrant at a home in unincorporated Apple Valley.

Pusok, originally driving a car, eventually abandoned it and fled on foot, then allegedly stole a horse, which he rode for about four miles until the animal threw him as deputies approached, according to sheriff’s officials.

In the video, Pusok can be seen lying face down on the ground with his hands behind his back while deputies punch and kick him.

On Monday, the Sheriff’s Department identified the group that beat Pusok as Sgt. James Evans and deputies Nicholas Downey, Scott Hamilton, David Moore, Dominic Moody, William Doemner, Michael Phelps, Raymond Perez, Tyler McGee and Charles Foster.

All 10 are on paid administrative leave pending a criminal investigation by the district attorney’s office and an internal administrative investigation. The FBI is conducting a civil-rights investigation into the beating.

The men’s names were being withheld while the Sheriff’s Department investigated numerous threats that flooded in via phone calls, emails and social media after video of the beating was broadcast. The threats were not legitimate, the department concluded.

The beating was captured on video by a KNBC news helicopter.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said after the incident that it “disturbed and troubled” him. The county agreed to pay Pusok a $650,000 settlement less than two weeks after the incident.

At the time, his attorneys said in a statement that the case “was never about money for Mr. Pusok."

"It has always been and will continue to be about the personal safety of Mr. Pusok and his family free from police harassment and abuse that they have had to endure,” said attorneys Sharon Brunner and James Terrell.

As part of the settlement, the county admitted no wrongdoing in Pusok’s arrest.

“The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation,” San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos said in a statement. “This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including taxpayers.”

Following the incident, Ramos called on the sheriff to implement a pilot program to use body cameras in the department.

In their statement, Pusok’s attorneys said they hoped the case, which drew national attention, would serve as a catalyst for reform.

“Change is obviously needed,” they said.

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