10 deputies placed on leave after arrest beating video

A booking photo released by the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department shows Francis Pusok, who was arrested Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Apple Valley, California. Video recorded from a news helicopter showed deputies assaulting Pusok at the end of a pursuit.

San Bernardino Sheriff's Department/CBS News

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A Southern California sheriff has placed 10 deputies on paid administrative leave after news video recorded a violent arrest that he says appeared to be excessive force.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon announced the action Friday in the aftermath of the arrest of 30-year-old Francis Pusok, CBS Los Angeles reported.

According to McMahon, Pusok fled by car and then on a stolen horse when deputies tried to serve a search warrant in an identity theft investigation Thursday afternoon in the community of Apple Valley.

McMahon said an internal investigation has begun on the use of force. In addition, two criminal investigations are underway, looking at Pusok's actions and the deputies' conduct.

Deputies were "familiar" with Pusok's criminal history prior to the pursuit, according to the sheriff, who said he was "disturbed and troubled" by what he saw in the video recorded by a helicopter crew from Los Angeles station KNBC.

 

In the footage, deputies are seen firing Tasers, bringing Pusok down.

"Suspect being tased. Suspect being tased," deputies can be heard saying.

While on the ground, two deputies appear to unleash a fury of kicks, knees and punches to Pusok's head and body with his face down and hands behind his back.

More deputies arrive and the beating continues. Over nearly two minutes, Pusok is struck more than 50 times.

"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."

Pusok's family attorney Jim Terrell told CBS Los Angeles he believes the footage "is far worse than Rodney King" and has called for the termination and arrests of the deputies seen in the beating.

"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.

CBS Los Angeles reported Pusok has a history of criminal convictions. 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.

"I want to know what these cops' past records are. Did they just start being thugs or have they been thugs for years?" said Terrell, who wants the FBI to investigate the department's handling of his client.

The department has not indicated whether the officers will be punished.

"These are bad cops, whether it's Ferguson, Missouri, or right here in Apple Valley. This stuff's got to stop," Terrell said.

Pusok has been hospitalized with injuries he is expected to survive, and three deputies were injured in the search, according to authorities.

His family is considering a civil suit.