On Tuesday, San Bernardino County agreed to pay $650,000 to a 30-year-old man who was harshly beaten by sheriff’s deputies for trying to escape arrest by car and horseback. The whole incident was videotaped by a hovering KNBC helicopter.
Francis Pusok reached an agreement with San Bernardino County Friday, more than a week after he was immobilized with a stun gun and repeatedly kicked and punched while he was lying on the ground. The settlement was approved earlier this week by the county’s Board of Supervisors.
According to the agreement, Mr. Pusok won’t sue the Sheriff’s Department or the county over the beating, while the county admitted no misconduct.
On the other hand, the agreement won’t interfere with the disciplinary investigation against the deputies involved in the beating. Sheriff John McMahon said that the incident was both disturbing and troubling. So ten deputies were put on paid leave, while the FBI conducts a separate criminal investigation.
A county spokesperson explained that the settlement was necessary to avoid the effort, time and money a lawsuit would involve. He also said that both sides had a direct interest in resolving the incident as soon as possible.
According to Mr. Pusok’s lawyers, the settlement was the county’s idea, especially after the video with the beating reached mass-media. The lawyers were also startled by a settlement based solely on a video since there was no indictment nor a prior investigation. The defense attorneys deemed the attack by sheriff’s deputies on an unarmed citizen “violent and brutal.”
“[It] 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,”
the lawyers added.
Mr. Pusok fled from the deputies in his private car, after the officers came to his home to serve a search warrant. The chase took several hours since the man fled on foot before allegedly stealing a horse which he rode four more miles. Eventually, the frightened animal threw him from the saddle as the deputies were approaching.
A news helicopter caught the last part of the chase on a video camera, including the beating. The video clearly shows that although Mr. Pusok seemed to have surrendered and was lying face down, deputies brutally kicked and punched him.
On a Friday interview, Mr. Pusok explained that he decided to flee because he had other encounters with law enforcement which made him fear deputies and police officers. But prosecution claims that he fled because he was on probation.
Nevertheless, Mr. Pusok was previously charged with several counts of resisting arrest over the past few years, but the majority of the charges were either reduced or dismissed.
The Board of Supervisors’ chairman James Ramos recently announced that the deal’s sole purpose was to avoid future litigation costs. Mr. Ramos also described the agreement as a fair outcome for both parties, including taxpayers.
Additionally, the board chairman urged the sheriff to purchase body cameras for all his deputies.
Image Source: Inside Edition