San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos.

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 03/30/17 – 8:08 PM PDT |

A senior prosecutor’s assertion that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department fosters a “culture of violence” outraged a local law enforcement labor union, prompting a swift apology from the supervising deputy district attorney and a public statement from the district attorney himself.

During his closing argument Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court in the trial of three deputies accused of assaulting Apple Valley resident Francis Pusok following a nearly three-hour chase through the High Desert in April 2015, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch, a veteran prosecutor of 18 years, told the jury the Sheriff’s Department fosters a “culture of violence” perpetuated by a “code of silence,” and that “We have to have the will to take on the machine of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.”

On Thursday, the jury convicted former deputy Charles Foster of one felony count of assault by a public officer under the color of authority. He faces up to three years in county prison and is scheduled for sentencing April 28. The jury deadlocked on former deputies Nicholas Downey and Michael Phelps, and Judge Dwight W. Moore scheduled a pretrial hearing for April 21 and a tentative trial date of May 8 for the two.

On Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association, or SEBA, issued a statement demanding Bulloch apologize for his comments Tuesday during his closing argument.

“The Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association is outraged by the comments made by (Supervising) Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch, who without warrant, made a sweeping indictment of all our members who work diligently to protect our community,” SEBA spokeswoman Lolita Harper, a former deputy herself, said in the statement. “Bulloch used inflammatory language and antics to sway a verdict, at the expense of every deputy in this county.”

By day’s end Wednesday, SEBA’s president, Laren Leichliter, received a written apology from Bulloch.

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