San Bernardino County Deputies Charged After Horse-Pursuit Beating Is Videotaped

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It began in an Apple Valley neighborhood, when Francis Pusok fled from authorities who chased him for three hours, pursuing him down tapered trails and over desert terrain — even as he ditched his car and mounted a stolen horse.

Francis Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley, is seen in a booking photo provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Francis Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley, is seen in a booking photo provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

But Pusok’s role as the suspect shifted when things turned violent on a rugged hillside near the San Bernardino National Forest. As a news helicopter trained its camera on the confrontation, a group of deputies appeared to kick and punch Pusok as he lay with his face in the dirt.

Soon after the April 9 incident, the county approved a $650,000 settlement to be paid to Pusok, the FBI launched a civil rights investigation and 10 San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies were put on administrative leave.

Three of those deputies have now been charged with assault by a peace officer in connection with that beating. Nicholas Downey, 33; Charles Foster, 34; and Michael Phelps, 29, could face up to three years in prison.

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