Back in April, we discussed the beating of Francis Pusok as he was trying to escape from police on horseback in the Southern California desert. Now, the three California deputies from San Bernardino County, Nicholas Downey, Michael Phelps, and Charles Foster will face criminal charges in the beating of Pusok. Each were charged with one count of assault by a public officer, and all three deputies are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Sept. 8. If convicted, each deputy faces between 16 months to three years in prison. They all remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.
Pusok’s attorney James Terrell believes eight of the 10 deputies should have been charged (not just the three involved in the incident). The other seven deputies who responded are not being criminally charged because of what was said on the voice recorders that the deputies carry on their belts. The helicopter footage that caught the incident indicated that Pusok appeared to have been kicked 17 times, punched 37 times, and struck with batons four times, a review of the video showed, and 13 blows appeared to be to the head. Mr. Pusok did file a lawsuit in response to the beating and settled it with San Bernardino County for $650,000. There has also been an internal probe of 10 deputies, along with an FBI civil rights probe.
Help for Police Misconduct
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for police to use excessive force against suspects, fabricate evidence, and even cover for each other in times of misconduct. Police misconduct comes in many forms, and includes but is not limited to:
- Unreasonable use of weapons such as tasers, batons, police dogs, and pepper spray;
- False arrests;
- Coerced confessions;
- Fabricating evidence;
If you have been a victim of police misconduct/brutality, you generally have three types of claims available to you:
- Constitutional claims;
- Civil tort claims for things like assault;
- State criminal claims.
The U.S. Constitution and California Constitution gives you certain civil rights (ie. freedom from cruel and unusual punishment) and you may file a lawsuit based on those claims. Section 1983 of the United States Code gives victims the right to sue people who violate their constitutional rights while acting under color of state law. Civil tort claims, on the other hand, are based on common tort law. They apply for classic tort concepts such as false arrest, battery, and wrongful death. Lastly, state criminal claims still apply to police. For example, they may be charged with assault with a deadly weapon under California Penal Code 245.
San Diego Criminal Law Attorney
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including charges of evading a police officer and charges of impeding a police officer’s activities. We also deal with cases involving fabricated evidence and police perjury. We are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and freedom and have successfully represented many defendants. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today for a free consultation.