San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos

Posted: 04/07/17 – 6:07 PM PDT |

The assault of Francis Pusok in 2015 by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies was televised for the entire country to see. Unlike some cases in recent years in which one could plausibly explain away and even justify use of force by officers, the beating of Pusok was indisputably excessive.

Kicked and punched over a prolonged period of time, Pusok, himself no angel, became a victim of those who ostensibly swore an oath to protect and serve their community.

Last week, jurors convicted Charles Foster of felony assault by a public officer. They deadlocked 8-4 in favor of convicting two additional deputies, Nick Downey and Michael Phelps, for similar charges. On Monday, both deputies accepted generous plea deals dismissing felony charges in exchange for pleading no contest to disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.

“After reevaluating the evidence and learning that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked, there is no reasonable likelihood that another jury would be able to reach a verdict,” Dist. Atty. Mike Ramos said in a statement. “It is time to move forward.”

It is a highly convenient resolution for Ramos, who publicly intervened in a spat between Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch and the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association, the deputy union. In his closing arguments last week, Bulloch appealed to jurors to take on the “culture of violence” in the sheriff’s department. Noting the case wasn’t an indictment of all police officers, Bulloch stressed the importance of standing up to the machine that is the sheriff’s department.

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