Less than two weeks since a California man was brutally beaten by police following a pursuit on horseback, all recorded on video, authorities have agreed to pay the victim $650,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor announced the settlement with Francis Pusok Tuesday as a way to avoid mounting legal expenses. However, in settling with the 30-year-old Pusok, officials are not admitting fault in the altercation during which county sheriff’s deputies used a Taser, and punched and kicked him multiple times.
“The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation,” Board Chairman James Ramos told the Los Angeles Times. “This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including taxpayers.”
The incident has prompted a civil rights investigation by the FBI, and the county sheriff has placed the 10 involved deputies on paid administrative leave. Criminal charges are possible for the deputies, the sheriff told the Times. "I am disturbed and troubled by what I see in the video," said John McMahon, the San Bernardino County Sheriff. "It does not appear to be in line with our policies and procedures."
A video captured April 9 by a local television helicopter flying above Highway 173 in southern California shows Pusok being kicked in the groin and punched by the deputies. Pusok appeared to have his hands behind his back while he endured the two-minute beating on the ground. The incident started nearly three hours before the beating, when deputies arrived to serve Pusok with a search warrant in an identity theft investigation, according to the sheriff's department.
Pusok drove away in a car that became disabled hours later. He then stole a horse from a group of people at the nearby Deep Creek Hot Springs before deputies caught up to him. He was arrested on charges that included evasion, theft of a horse and possession of stolen property.
The video of the beating can be seen below.