San Bernardino County Sheriff Use-of-Force

Video from a KNBC-TV news helicopter appears shows San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies beating Francis Jared Pusok, who led them on a pursuit April 9 in the High Desert. )KNBC-TV Courtesy photo)

By Beatriz Valenzuela, San Bernardino Sun
and Grace Wong, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 05/11/15 – 8:26 AM PDT |

The names of San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies and command staff who were allegedly involved in the beating of Francis Pusok last month in the High Desert were made public Monday by sheriff’s officials.

The names are: Deputy Nicholas Downey, Deputy Scott Hamilton, Deputy David Moore, Deputy Dominic Moody, Detective William Doemner and Sgt. James Evans, all assigned to the Victor Valley station; deputies Michael Phelps and Raymond Perez assigned to the Twin Peaks station; Deputy Tyler McGee assigned to the Apple Valley station; and Deputy Charles Foster assigned to the Hesperia station.

“When the incident occurred, the department and individuals received numerous threats, and until those threats could be investigated and deemed unsubstantiated or unwarranted, it wasn’t safe to release the deputies’ names for fear of any harm coming to them or their families,” said Jodi Miller, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. “When the Office of the Sheriff said the investigations had been completed, then we released the names.”

The criminal and administrative investigations are still ongoing, and the deputies who are named remain on paid administrative leave, Miller said.

Sheriff John McMahon ordered the investigation soon after news footage emerged showing what appears to show several deputies kicking and punching Pusok after a lengthy pursuit, which included the theft of a horse on April 9 in the unincorporated area of Apple Valley.

A request for background information for the 10 named deputies, such as their ages and how long they had worked for the department, was denied because they are protected under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, according to Miller.

However, a records search revealed that some of the deputies are long-time veterans of the department.

“It’s hard to give any opinion or insight because we don’t know who those first two responders were, and I think if there’s going to be major sanctions, it’s going to be the first two there who were clearly beating the suspect incessantly and we don’t know who those two were,” said Stephen Tibbetts, a Cal State San Bernardino criminology professor. “I’m not excusing the other deputies who stood by and let it happen. But when it all comes down, I think the biggest sanctions will be against those first two deputies, and we don’t know their identities as of now. This is just the first disclosure, and it’s extremely vague.”

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