Video shot from a television news helicopter Thursday afternoon shows a 30-year-old Apple Valley man being repeatedly beaten by a group of San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies as they take him into custody following a three-hour pursuit that involved a stolen horse, a vehicle pursuit of a blue Dodge sedan and a foot chase through the Deep Creek area near Highway 173.
In the video from NBC4's helicopter, at least five deputies are seen punching, kicking and hitting Francis Jared Pusok, 30, as they apprehended him around 3 p.m. Thursday. NBC4 said deputies administered nearly 60 blows with feet, hands or batons. More than a dozen were to the head.
Scanner traffic reported just before 3 p.m. Thursday that Pusok, who had been riding a stolen horse for most of the pursuit, had dismounted and had been arrested. In the NBC4 video, Pusok is seen falling off his horse before being stunned with a Taser at least twice. After falling to the ground, Pusok extends his arms and puts them behind his back. At that point, three deputies began kicking and punching him before two more deputies joined in. By the end of the incident, one dozen deputies are huddled around Pusok, who is still lying on the ground, but not all 12 of the deputies participated in the beating.
Scanner traffic reported medical aid was called for Pusok around 3:15 p.m. Authorities said Pusok is alive and was transported to “a local hospital with unknown injuries.”
Sheriff John McMahon said he has ordered an internal investigation to be "conducted immediately."
"The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately," McMahon said in a written statement. "In addition, members of the Specialized Investigations Detail are responding to conduct the criminal investigation."
Authorities said the incident began around 12:12 p.m. when deputies from the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station served a search warrant at a home in the 25300 block of Zuni Road in unincorporated Apple Valley. The warrant was reportedly related to an identity theft investigation. Sheriff’s officials said Pusok fled the residence in a blue Dodge sedan when deputies arrived.
Pusok drove away, refused to yield to deputies, and a pursuit began in the area of Laguna Seca and Standing Rock roads in Apple Valley. The pursuit continued onto southbound Central Avenue and into Apple Valley town limits briefly, before continuing south into unincorporated Hesperia and onto Bowen Ranch Road. The pursuit reached speeds of 70 mph on paved roads, and 50 mph on the dirt roads south of Bowen Ranch Road, authorities said.
Sheriff’s officials said Pusok abandoned the Dodge sedan southwest of Bowen Ranch Road and continued to flee on foot.
The Sheriff's Department helicopter was requested to assist with the search around 12:50 p.m., but scanner traffic reported the helicopter coming from the valley was unable to assist due to mechanical issues. The California Highway Patrol helicopter arrived thereafter to assist deputies, who were now pursuing the suspect in the area near Deep Creek Hot Springs.
The Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter was able to become airborne and joined the CHP helicopter and deputies on dirt bikes in the search around 1 p.m. Deputies then received information that Pusok had stolen a horse from a group of people near the Deep Creek Hot Springs and had fled on horseback. Authorities said he began guiding the horse through rugged terrain, causing “numerous injuries” to the horse.
The sheriff’s helicopter began dropping off deputies near the area of Highway 173 and Arrowhead Lake Road around 2 p.m. in preparation to arrest Pusok. As deputies approached him, authorities said he was thrown off of his horse. According to sheriff’s officials, the Taser was “ineffective due to his loose clothing.”
“A use of force occurred during the arrest,” sheriff’s officials said in a news release. “An internal investigation will be conducted regarding the use of force.”
Three deputies who were suffering from dehydration and possible neck and back injuries were airlifted from the area to hospitals. Pusok was also transported. The horse was removed from the area and deputies were working on returning it to its owner.