Charges filed against man beaten by deputies in horse pursuit

In this frame from a video provided by KNBC-TV, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies appear to beat and kick Francis Pusok in April 2015.

In this frame from a video provided by KNBC-TV, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies appear to beat and kick Francis Pusok in April 2015.

(KNBC-TV / Associated Press)

A 30-year-old man, who received a $650,000 payout after he was beaten by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies after a pursuit, was charged Thursday with multiple counts related to events before the assault.

Francis Pusok had led police on a three-hour pursuit April 9 in Lucerne Valley on a motorcycle and a horse. After he was thrown off the horse, a KNBC helicopter filmed as deputies kicked and punched Pusok even as he appeared to have surrendered.

He was arrested and eventually released on $100,000 bail.

But on Thursday, prosecutors filed a 14-count criminal complaint against Pusok in connection with the pursuit.


The Apple Valley resident faces charges in connection with the theft of three different vehicles, receipt of stolen property, reckless driving, evading a police officer and resisting arrest, according to the San Bernardino County Superior Court complaint. He is also charged with possessing ammunition, stealing a horse, cruelty to the horse and being under the influence of amphetamine and marijuana.

His arraignment is set for June 16 in Victorville. If Pusok is convicted of the charges, he faces up to 19 years and four months in prison, the San Bernardino County’s district attorney’s office said.

Pusok’s attorneys, James S. Terrell and Sharon J. Brunner, condemned the decision to prosecute their client, calling the charges “retaliatory, unjust, unfair and inequitable.”

“We are disappointed, but yet sadly not surprised,” said the attorneys, noting that none of the 10 deputies involved in the “vicious” beating currently faces criminal allegations.

The charges against Pusok come more than a month after San Bernardino County agreed to pay him $650,000 in connection with the beating.

The settlement ended any potential claims Pusok could make against the county or sheriff’s department stemming from the beating.

The chase began after deputies arrived to serve a search warrant at a home in unincorporated Apple Valley. He fled and led police on a pursuit.

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.

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

The deputies were identified 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.

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