SAN BERNARDINO, California – The sheriff in San Bernardino, California, says he’s looking into a videotaped incident in which deputies are seen kicking and hitting a man who had led them on a chase.
In video captured by cameras aboard a helicopter for KNBC, deputies gather around the man after he falls from the horse he was riding, using a stun gun on him and then repeatedly kicking and hitting him.
KNBC reported that the man — identified by authorities as Francis Pusok — appeared to be kicked 17 times, punched 37 times and hit with a baton four times. Pusok was later hospitalized, KNBC reported, citing authorities.
“The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing and I have ordered an internal investigation be conducted immediately,” Sheriff John McMahon said in a statement.
The ACLU of Southern California issued a statement Friday saying that it was “deeply troubled” by the images.
“While we applaud Sheriff John McMahon’s prompt decision to investigate the disturbing actions of his deputies, we believe more is needed,” the organization said. “Too often the department has failed to address questions, including those raised by the ACLU SoCal, about use of force and Taser policies.”
The Thursday afternoon incident began when deputies tried to serve a search warrant in an identity-theft investigation, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Pusok fled from deputies in a car, then on foot, deputies said. He later stole a horse, according to authorities, before being arrested in steep, rugged terrain by officers who had been dropped in by helicopter.
A deputy was injured when the horse Pusok had been riding kicked him, the Sheriff’s Department said. Two others were treated for dehydration.
The incident comes amid heightened scrutiny of police use of force after the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the recent shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.