How ten Southern California deputies turned a career criminal into a victim by beating him senseless on camera

I think we all recognize that Francis Pusok is no saint. In fact, he’s someone we would normally hope the police would keep off the streets. The man has a history of no contest pleas to felony attempted robbery, misdemeanor disturbing the peace, animal cruelty and resisting arrest.

These no contest pleas are basically Pusok not admitting guilt, but admitting to being an asshole. He was a suspect in an identity theft investigation, which is what precipitated the police showing up at his house to serve a search warrant.

As the first of over a dozen San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies, and higher-level police representation descended upon his home, a Los Angeles television news chopper followed the man who was brazen enough to attempt a getaway on horseback.

At the time, it seemed that the long hours of chasing Francis Pusok would be the end of the story. He was lucky he wasn’t in the Old West, stealing a horse was a hanging offense back then. After a long three hour pursuit, deputies finally had the man down and subdued moments after he fell from the horse.

Francis Pusok
Francis Pusok

But instead of doing the smart thing, the professional thing and hopefully the normal thing, by immediately restraining him, as he offered his hands to them as they rested on his back… they beat the shit out of him.

So now, rather than being the good guys who caught the bad guy, they are, with all of us as witnesses, the bad guys who beat the shit out of an unarmed, subdued guy who had clearly given himself up.

Ten deputies from San Bernardino have since been placed on paid administrative leave after the video showed them kicking and beating Francis Pusok at the end of a pursuit.

How exactly are we, the general public, to know when these men, these police officers, are going to go off the deep end? Sure, in this case, they had been dragged all over the place, in the heat, over rough, dusty, rocky terrain. The guy deserved to be beat on, right? Wrong.

If police departments across this country keep hiring men who are in serious need of anger management classes who are more than willing to seek vengeance for their sweaty, dehydrated selves then we should expect to see more and more of this. But in the future I think we need to call them something other than police or sheriffs. Gestapo might be more suitable.

But let’s hold off on the name-calling for now, shall we? As things stand, the problem is this: how do I know that should I get stopped for speeding, and my hand goes up to where I keep my registration and insurance, that one of these yahoos aren’t going to react badly?

How do I know that I won’t be the next person who is stopped by a police officer for the most common of reasons, and this cop isn’t going to pull me out of my car without cause. And if I object to it, how do I know that I won’t be searched myself? Strip searched, even? How about a body cavity search? All for a simple traffic violation.

I know what you’re thinking. “You can’t paint all police with the same brush used to define this San Bernardino crew.” Or the cop in North Charleston, the ones who killed Eric Garner or a 12-year-old with a toy gun, or shot Michael Brown.

Until the police prove to me that they shouldn’t all be painted with the same brush, why should I not?

I am a software consultant who believes that the sooner we learn to accept and love the diversity of all peoples, the sooner we will figure out how to improve everyone's lives, which benefits us all. I love dogs, writing, gardening, photography and movies. I love dogs, did I mention that already? Mine are a three-pack of Beagle-ish boys named Fred, Homer and Atticus. I truly hit the doggie jackpot, but I usually do. Shelter dogs are the ONLY way to go!


  1. 1970: Visiting family in Cabrillo. (San Bernadino) 7 Sheriffs kicked down the door, threw in a kilo of pot (red cellophane) and yelled YOU’RE BUSTED! The landlord needed a reason to break the lease, and the cops love landlords, eh? So Granny agreed to move in exchange for dropped bogus charges. Back then, no one cared. Do we now?

  2. I saw this a couple of days ago. Two things struck (word intentionally used) me: One, Deputy number one, who has his back turned to the camera first, kicks Pusok in the groin with tremendous force Two, after a few seconds later, takes his Taser and uses it as a weapon not to stun, but to inflict serious damage to the Pusok’s right kidney area. His (the deputy) intent seems to be more about inflicting serious injury instead of merely teaching a lesson.

    Mind you, this was all over identity theft.

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