Saturday, April 11, 2015 – 01:00 p.m.
Ripples from the epicenter of a videotaped assault on an unarmed High Desert man, who fled from Deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, are expanding at an ever increasing rate.
The incident is receiving national attention. All major networks, mainstream and cable, and international press, has picked up the story.
The latest incident has turned up the flame on Sheriff John McMahon, who is already dealing with one federal investigation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) .
McMahon, to his credit, handled Friday’s press conference well.
McMahon gave a candid opinion that the incident appeared to be out of policy and an excessive use of force. McMahon further indicated that a total of 10 deputies were immediately place on administrative leave with pay. The number consists of 1 sergeant, 1 detective and 8 deputies. McMahon further stated that his office was conducted parallel administrative and criminal investigations, and that he had been in contact with District Attorney Mike Ramos, who’s office would review the results for possible criminal violations.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department booking photo of Francis Pusok, 30, shows Pusok with a black eye, multiple bruises to the face, and a heavy bruise in front of his left ear. Sheriff’s officials acknowledge Pusok was not the target of law enforcement, prior to the encounter.
However, within 90 minutes, that stance was met with the announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was initiating its own civil rights investigation into the incident. The results of that investigation will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, and the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Those offices will determine whether or not the civil rights of Francis Pusok, 30, were violated, and if criminal charges will be filed.
The latest incident comes on the heels of a federal civil rights investigation into alleged inmate abuse at San Bernardino County jail facilities.
Unlike in state court. All administrative interviews given by involved personnel are fair game in a federal probe.
At present, a Federal Grand Jury, in Riverside, has been hearing testimony and examining evidence to determine whether or not to indict current and former Sheriff employees. The allegations have already resulted in the resignation and/or termination of several sworn personnel.
It’s no surprise that the FBI has immediately stepped in to a second incident involving the Sheriff’s department.
The last time the District Attorney handled the prosecution of Sheriff’s personnel involved a pay scandal where seven current and former employees were all charged with felonies for allegedly falsifying training and pay records to receive additional compensation.
Ultimately charges in the case were quietly dismissed, reduced to a single misdemeanor, or expunged.
McMahon and Ramos share the same political consultant, and ran together as a ticket last June.
Ramos, in recent years, has also adopted the practice of charging defendants, who have been subjected to serious use-of-force, with heavy felony charges in trying to preempt civil lawsuits against local agencies.
When asked by a reporter at a Friday news conference if the latest incident raised questions about training and leadership, Sheriff John McMahon deflected.
Late last night networks were reporting that officials at the West Valley Detention Center were unable to produce Pusok to his lawyers.
Scuttlebutt says the Sheriff’s Department may attempt to hang responsibility on the Sergeant at the scene. However that would seem unlikely given the magnitude.
It’ll be interesting to see the D.A. charging decision for Pusok on Monday.
Also, where are county supervisors hiding? The elected officials, who continue paying out secret multimillion dollar settlements, is demonstrably silent.
Here’s the latest media coverage on the incident:
The Sun: 10 deputies on leave in Apple Valley apparent beating, arrest of man fleeing on horse (video)
The Press-Enterprise: Apple Valley: Ten deputies on paid leave after beating
Los Angeles Times: FBI probing videotaped beating by San Bernardino deputies
The Daily Press: Deputies put on leave
The Associated Press: 10 deputies on leave after California horse chase beating
Reuters: California sheriff suspends 10 officers over beating of horseman
The Washington Post: California sheriff suspends 10 deputies following brutal beating of suspected horse thief
The New York Times: 10 California Deputies Are Put on Leave After Beating
USA Today: 10 Calif. deputies put on leave after suspect’s beating
The Toronto Sun: California sheriff orders probe into beating of fleeing horseman
UK Daily Mail: Ten California deputies put on leave after shocking helicopter footage shows them ‘punching and kicking horse thief as he lay on the ground with hands behind his back’
Le Monde.fr: Etats-Unis : dix shérifs suspendus pour avoir violemment battu un homme
Deutsche Welle.de: California officers suspended over beating of man on horseback