Earlier this month, BenSwann.com reported on an April 9 incident, depicted in CNN‘s above-embedded video coverage, in which a group of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies were caught on camera by NBC Los Angeles‘ news helicopter as they appeared to savagely beat a surrendering horse theft suspect who had evaded police. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that, less than two weeks after the incident, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has agreed to pay the victim of the beating, 30-year-old Francis Pusok, a $650,000 settlement.
San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert told The Los Angeles Times, “Clearly this was something that both sides had an interest in resolving as soon as possible.” In accepting the settlement, Pusok will waive his right to sue the county and its Sheriff’s Department. However, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, who called the video “disturbing,” is going forward with investigations into whether the ten deputies involved should be fired or face criminal charges. The deputies implicated in the incident have been placed on leave and are under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly violating Pusok’s civil rights.
San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos stated, “The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation. This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including taxpayers.” Ramos recommended that Sheriff McMahon implement a new body camera program in response to the incident.
A statement released by Pusok’s attorneys James Terrell and Sharon Brunner said, “This settlement is remarkable as there was essentially no investigation nor any indictments. Rather it is based on a video which depicts a violent and brutal attack by San Bernardino County deputies on a private citizen.” The statement noted that Pusok hopes that his ordeal will result in use-of-force policy changes by law enforcement. “Change is obviously needed,” it read.
The April 9 incident began when Pusok, who had a criminal record and was on probation, fled police as they investigated an identity theft case at a house at which he happened to be located but did not live. Pusok claims that he fled because he had a fear of law enforcement officers, but Sheriff John McMahon says that he believes that Pusok fled because he is on probation. Pusok initially evaded police in a vehicle and eventually left it behind as he stole a horse in an effort to escape into the desert, where he was later thrown from the horse and subsequently beaten by police.