Crime & Justice

3 San Bernardino County deputies to be charged in beating of horse-riding suspect

A screenshot from NBC video shows two sheriff's deputies attacking a man who had led them on a car chase before stealing a horse.
A screenshot from NBC video shows two sheriff's deputies attacking a man who had led them on a car chase before stealing a horse.
Courtesy NBC 4

San Bernardino County prosecutors announced Tuesday that they plan to file criminal charges against three of the 10 deputies involved in the beating of a suspect after he tried to escape on horseback.

The deputies being charged are Nicholas Downey, Michael Phelps and Charles Foster, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. At a Tuesday morning news conference, it was announced that those three would be charged since the other deputies were seen as joining in, as the law says that deputies can assume that other deputies are acting lawfully.

"The vast majority of our law enforcement officers do an excellent job of protecting the public," San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said in a release. "However, in those rare instances when an officer crosses the line and uses excessive force, the officer must be held accountable. Today, we have taken the first steps to hold these officers accountable."

The deputies each face up to three years in prison. They are set to be arraigned on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The Sheriff's Department submitted the results of its investigation to the district attorney last month.

An NBC4 helicopter news crew followed the April chase as Frances Jared Pusok fled deputies on a stolen horse. It then captured deputies repeatedly punching and kicking Pusok as he lay on the ground.

Ten deputies were put on administrative leave, and the county reached a $650,000 settlement with Pusok. He has been charged with 14 felony and misdemeanor counts.

Complaint

This story has been updated.