The chase lasted three hours, after sheriff’s deputies in Apple Valley, California, tried to serve a search warrant on Francis Jared Pusok for identity theft. Pusok took off, and deputies followed.
Authorities said the incident began around 12:12 p.m. when deputies from the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station served a search warrant at a home in the 25300 block of Zuni Road in unincorporated Apple Valley. The warrant was reportedly related to an identity theft investigation. Sheriff’s officials said Pusok fled the residence in a blue Dodge sedan when deputies arrived.
Pusok drove away, refused to yield to deputies, and a pursuit began in the area of Laguna Seca and Standing Rock roads in Apple Valley. The pursuit continued onto southbound Central Avenue and into Apple Valley town limits briefly, before continuing south into unincorporated Hesperia and onto Bowen Ranch Road. The pursuit reached speeds of 70 mph on paved roads, and 50 mph on the dirt roads south of Bowen Ranch Road, authorities said.
But Pusok then stole an unidentified horse and rode into the desert, where the bulk of the chase occurred. Eventually, deputies caught up to Pusok on the unnamed horse and nailed him with a Taser. What happened next was caught on video by a news helicopter.
As appears clearly in the video, Pusok was on the ground, hands out, which was the perfect moment for a good kick in the head. But that was only the downpayment on the price of flight.
“A use of force occurred during the arrest,” sheriff’s officials said in a news release. “An internal investigation will be conducted regarding the use of force.”
By a “use of force,” they mean:
NBC4 said deputies administered nearly 60 blows with feet, hands or batons. More than a dozen were to the head.
While it’s possible that the deputies observed “invisible signs” such as muscle tightening or a change in breathing, which sometimes occurs as a person is beaten and kicked in the head, giving rise to their deep fear of harm from stubbing their toes on Pusok’s face, it appears far more likely that the deputies were just really pissed that Pusok made them work so hard to catch him, and decided to teach him that they were not amused by his flight.
And the injuries?
Three deputies who were suffering from dehydration and possible neck and back injuries were airlifted from the area to hospitals. Pusok was also transported. The horse was removed from the area and deputies were working on returning it to its owner.
While Pusok’s flight from search and potential arrest was clearly not the most well-conceived reaction, and it’s understandable that the deputies were less than thrilled at the prospect of being taken on a three hour tour of the desert, they still aren’t allowed to administer their own brand of punishment for Pusok’s failure to respect their authoritah. Once down, the chase was over, there was no threat of harm and Pusok should have been taken into custody. Instead, they just beat the crap out of him.
Of course, the significance of the beating, which might otherwise arouse serious concern, is put into context by the requisite background smear to remind us that Pusok isn’t worthy of the attention of law-abiding readers, and probably deserved a good beating regardless:
Court records show Pusok has an extensive criminal history. Since 2006, Pusok has been sentenced to San Bernardino County jails for attempted robbery, fighting and misdemeanor obstructing an officer, court records show. His most serious offense came for a Nov. 25, 2013 incident in which he was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty and resisting an executive officer. He was sentenced to 233 days in jail and five years probation.
In that 2013 case, charges including threatening a school employee, willful cruelty to a child, vandalism, making a criminal threat and being a felon in possession of a firearm were dropped as part of a plea agreement, according to court records.
He later failed to comply with the requirements to attend a 12-hour anger management course.
Notably, this “extensive” criminal history tops out at a misdemeanor conviction for animal cruelty, which clarifies the need for extreme caution in securing this dangerous horse thief:
In the NBC4 video, Pusok is seen falling off his horse before being stunned with a Taser at least twice. After falling to the ground, Pusok extends his arms and puts them behind his back. At that point, three deputies began kicking and punching him before two more deputies joined in. By the end of the incident, one dozen deputies are huddled around Pusok, who is still lying on the ground, but not all 12 of the deputies participated in the beating.
Before you question why all 12 deputies failed to do their duty, bear in mind that it can be hard to jockey for position to get a decent blow in, and sometimes a deputy simply finds himself ill-placed for a good kick to the head. It’s just physics, and not necessarily a failing of the deputy per se.
Once the video was revealed, Sheriff John McMahon took swift action.
Sheriff John McMahon said he has ordered an internal investigation to be “conducted immediately.”
“The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately,” McMahon said in a written statement.
Thankfully, the unnamed stolen horse was apparently unharmed by either Pusok or the deputies.