SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Authorities have launched an internal investigation after the arrest of a man accused of ditching a car and leading deputies on a three-hour pursuit on horseback in San Bernardino.
Francis Pusok, 30, was captured in footage by a news helicopter falling off a horse authorities said was stolen Thursday afternoon in Apple Valley.
Deputies say they tried to hit Pusok with a Taser, which was ineffective.
The footage then shows one of the deputies kicking Pusok in the head, another kicking him in the groin, and together they punch and knee him.
Other deputies are then seen moving in and hitting Pusok. At this point, it’s unclear what Pusok is doing, hidden beneath the group of officers.
The entire incident lasted more than a minute, according to the footage San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said was “disturbing.”
McMahon has ordered an internal investigation into the arrest.
“The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing, and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately,” he said in a statement. “In addition, members of the Specialized Investigation Detail are responding to conduct the criminal investigation.”
“What I saw on the television was thugs beating up my client. That’s what I saw. And these questions about what was he doing? What did they do? This is far worse than Rodney King,” said Pusok’s family attorney Jim Terrell, who’s calling for the termination and arrests of the deputies seen in the footage.
Deputies said they were serving a search warrant to Pusok in connection with an identity-theft investigation when he fled.
“I couldn’t believe it. The first thing I said was, ‘They can’t do that.’ That is first thing out of my mouth was that, ‘They cannot do that,’ ” said Jolene Bindner, Pusok’s girlfriend of 13 years.
Bindner described Pusok as a great father but admits he’s had several run-ins with the law.
CBS2 uncovered convictions of Pusok’s dating as far back as 2002. They include: driving on a sidewalk at an unsafe speed in 2002; attempted robbery in 2006; fighting in 2011; cruelty to an animal in 2013; resisting an officer in 2013; and obstructing or resisting an officer in 2014.
“I’m not gonna stand here and say that he’s perfect, because who is?” Bindner asked.
That last deflection is as asinine as if I were to say, “I’m not gonna sit here and say the deputies are perfect, because who is?”
“Worse than Rodney King”? Can someone say, “hashtaglawyerhyperbolicspin”?
Difference of circumstances aside, what’s the stark difference that stands out between the reportage of Francis Pusok’s beating and that of Walter Scott’s murder? Both are receiving some level of national media attention; but why?
The difference I see is that Walter Scott’s skin color was highlighted and made part of the news story. Francis Pusok’s skin color is not mentioned. #Whitelivesmatter.
Anyone think Al Sharpton would care to make a media-covered pilgrimage to San Bernardino to talk of police brutality and injustice?
On an aside, what’s the story regarding Sharpton and the Scott family? I’ve read on one hand the family doesn’t welcome Sharpton’s presence and do not want Walter Scott’s funeral turned into a circus. And from Sharpton’s camp, I’ve read they’ve been in talks with the Scott family and that Sharpton won’t be at the funeral due to scheduling conflict.
Anyway, why does everything have to be about race, when it involves someone who happens to be black?
Who’s being disproportionately killed by cops?
An Aug. 15 article in USA Today cited FBI estimates of 400 police-involved deaths per year. But it went on to note those estimates were based on a small fraction of the 17,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide – those that chose to report “justifiable police homicides.”
Frankly, we’re more interested in police homicides which are not justifiable. Who keeps that list?
For over a dozen years Wikipedia has crowdsourced a list of deaths caused by U.S. law enforcement officers. During August, we collaborated with 44 “Wikipedians” – the highly involved, active volunteers at the heart of Wikipedia – to source, distill and verify a comprehensive-as-possible list of people killed by U.S. law enforcement officers in August 2014, and add to what was already there for prior months and years. Names were culled from thousands of mainstream media articles. Each case was confirmed in at least one media source, often the paper of record for its community.
The total for August alone: 104 deaths.
You can review the list on Wikipedia as “List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States, August 2014.”
Of course, 104 per month, over 12 months, would come to 1,248 deaths – an annual count significantly higher than the FBI’s estimate of 400.
The majority of those killed this August were, from all appearances, flat-out crooks – often armed, often shooting, often extremely dangerous – in situations where even hard-line pacifists and Buddhist monks would be tempted to grab a weapon and aim where it counts.
But a closer reading of the list will make an honest American cry.
Innocent bystanders died – three of them. Four officers committed suicide. Twelve, like Michael Brown, were under 21 – just starting out in life. Many – it’s impossible to say how many, but quite clear it was too many – were affected by mental illness, alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement officers killed people with mental illness in Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, Maryland, Alabama, New Jersey, Kansas, our state of Oregon, Missouri, and California.
There were men killed while raging against their own families – wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, granddaughters. Often these men were drunk, and their final stupid act was pointing a gun at officers.
But then, there were others – and tragedy stretching beyond spilled blood and shattered families to media uninterest, a blue wall of silence, and the crush of universal inattention.
Joe Jennings, 18 and living in Kansas, wasn’t out of the psych ward three hours before being shot to death.
John Crawford, a 22-year-old in suburban Dayton Ohio, was playing with a toy gun in a Walmart when he was shot and killed.
Diana Showman, 19, of San Jose, pointed a power drill at police, who shot and killed her. She had bipolar disorder.
According to witnesses, Ezell Ford, 24, of Los Angeles, was lying on the sidewalk, arms outstretched, when officers shot him to death. He had a mental illness.
Jeremy Lake, 19, of Tulsa, was killed by his girlfriend’s parents – who were both Tulsa police officers.
We know police often make important mistakes in their first report to the media. That’s understandable, considering the inevitable chaos surrounding any law enforcement officer-involved death. But sadly, the media often don’t return to the first, unverified and mistake-prone stories to put things right. There have been instances, for example, of early reports saying, “He was armed.” Later it develops there was never a weapon. This detail goes unreported, but is repeated by members of the public as justifying police actions.
The list had pathos, but also patterns.
More often than not, the shooter was a surprised sheriff’s deputy in a rural area, without the organized training or immediate backup that may be available to urban counterparts.
Locating any racial patterns was more difficult. To make a fair determination, we searched for photographs or media descriptions of race for each person. But photographs are an unreliable source for race – and we urge better resourced researchers to take on the task and improve our results. We excluded those we could not determine (18), bystanders killed (3), murders (4), and suicides (4), leaving 75 on-duty intentional deaths.
Of these 75, 29 were white, 24 black, 20 Hispanic and two Asian, which means 61.3 percent of persons killed by law enforcement officers this August were people of color. The overrepresentation of non-whites on the list had no simple cause, outside of the cloudy, multi-platform failure we call “the U.S. criminal justice system.”
Our list could be larger. We did not include deaths from chases or where people suicided when confronted by officers. No deaths from acute detox on the jail floor are listed, nor were executions. We were not able to track people critically injured by shootings who later died; their stories were not reported. Adding those deaths could increase the list by 30 or 40 persons.
Some of the dead, such as Kajieme Powell and Michelle Cusseaux, both people with mental illness, received significant press coverage. But usually local media reworked the police press release and moved on. Lazy, rushed, or indifferent – it’s hard to tell.
In no instance during this one-month period did a district attorney announce any immediate investigation. No charges were filed in any on-duty killing; all deaths were deemed justifiable prior to investigation. No mayor apologized to grieving parents, spouses or children. For a few deaths, people marched in the streets. For others, not even a name was announced.
For all its deficits, we believe our survey offers the best answer so far to the question, “Who’s getting killed by cops?”