The San Bernadino County Sheriff's department has launched an internal investigation after footage (shown below) has surfaced from NBC Los Angeles' NewsChopper4 video showing a suspect being beaten by up to 11 sheriff deputies after a chase through the desert.
The footage shows a man identified as Francis Jared Pusok, 30, falling off of a horse he is suspected of stealing while fleeing from deputies. One of the sheriff's deputies reportedly stunned him with a Taser, which caused him to fall to the ground, reports NBC Los Angeles. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the events that were captured next "disturbed" him.
After being tased, Pusok, who allegedly fled after deputies went to his home in Apple Valley to serve a search warrant in an identity theft investigation, was reportedly punched in the head and kicked in the groin by two deputies before several more joined in the assault.
The suspect was allegedly kicked 17 times, punched 37 times, and struck with batons four times during the next two minutes. He was struck 13 times in the head, according to the video. In the 45 minutes that he lay motionless on the ground, Pusok did not receive medical attention, according to authorities.
When the suspect's girfriend, Jolene Bindner, said she tried to get information from police about Pusok's whereabouts and condition, she says they wouldn't even disclose the name of the hospital in which he was receiving treatment.
"I'm not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect," McMahon told NBC 4. "It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I'm not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly."
Two of the deputies involved reportedly became dehydrated during the incident, and a third was kicked by the horse. All three received treatment at a hospital.
Deputies reportedly said the Taser was ineffective due to the use of force during the incident and because Pusok was wearing loose clothing at the time. They say the horse threw the suspect off after the deputies approached him.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defended Pusok in a statement, saying they "are deeply troubled by the video images that appear to show San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies beating a man after he surrendered."
Pusok's past convictions reportedly include resisting arrest, animal cruelty, disturbing the peace, attempted robbery, and failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility.