Internal Investigation Opens into Sheriff Deputies Caught On Video Beating Man Who Stole Horse

San Bernardino
San Bernardino City Hall is seen in San Bernardino, California January 23, 2015. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Updated | The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department in California on Friday opened an internal investigation into the actions of several sheriff deputies seen beating a man suspected of stealing a horse.

The suspect, 30-year-old Francis Jared Pusok, was caught on video by a news helicopter riding a horse through the desert. Deputies are then seen using a Taser on Pusok and he falls to the ground from the horse, after which he does not appear to move. Two deputies then begin kicking and punching him. At one point, according to the local NBC affiliate, 11 sheriff's deputies appear to be attacking Pusok.

"I'm not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect. It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I'm not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly," Sheriff John McMahon told NBC. "I'm disturbed by what I see in the video. But I don't need to jump to conclusions at this point, until we do a complete and thorough investigation. If our deputy sheriffs did something wrong, they'll be put off work and they'll be dealt with appropriately, all in accordance with the law as well as our department policy."

Three sheriff's deputies reportedly were injured while pursuing the suspect and horse. The department did not respond to calls for comment.

The video appears to show that Pusok was kicked more than 15 times, punched more than 30 times and hit with a baton four times. NBC said 13 of the blows were to the man's head.

The suspect did not receive medical attention for 45 minutes after the attack and remains in the hospital.

"To me, it was like a joyride for the cops to do this to him. [It was] brutality. He didn't deserve something like that," Pusok's mother, Anne Clemenson, told NBC. "To Tase him, the beatings that I see them doing to him—it's uncalled for. You see him laying down, and they continue to kick him, hitting him and punching him. Why?"