The San Bernardino County Sheriff Department’s taser policy aligns with a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling which requires law enforcement to refrain from using Tasers against persons who do not post an “imminent threat” to the officer or the public.
For this reason, an FBI probe has been launched into ten San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies, all of whom are on administrative leave over accusations into their use of Tasers on a suspect who led them on a one-hour chase but allegedly posed no imminent threat.
Sheriff Department executive officer Sgt. Glenn Alfaro suggested officers can also tase a suspect if he or she “assaulted someone and still posed a threat to the public” following a chase. But no reports to this point “[indicate] Francis Pusok did anything violent when he led deputies on a car chase before allegedly stealing a horse and continuing to flee.”
According to The San Bernardino County Sun, 30-year-old Pusok led deputies on a one hour chase on April 9 that began with him in a car and ended with him upon a horse. When “he fell off the horse and laid on his stomach, video of the arrest appears to show Pusok stiffening from electricity while on the ground. Several deputies converge and begin punching, kicking and bludgeoning him.”
The Sheriff’s Department claims they used a Taser, but it was ineffective. Pusok’s attorney, Jim Terrell, argues that a Taser was used when it ought not to have been used at all. He also suggests the Taser was effective, that his client “remembers being on the ground and the Taser hitting him. And it did its job.”
“Terrell has filed several lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Department,” and more than one of these involves Taser usage.
No word on how long the FBI investigation in the San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputies will last.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.