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Deputy found guilty in 2015 Calif. televised beating; mistrial for two others

Charles Foster was found guilty in the beating of Francis Pusok after a three-hour chase, involving a stolen horse, which was caught on camera by a hovering television news helicopter.

By Ed Adamczyk

March 31 (UPI) -- A sheriff's deputy in Southern California was convicted of assault for his role in the beating of a suspect following a chase on horseback in 2015.

Charles Foster, 35, faces up to three years in prison at an April 28 sentencing after a jury found him guilty of assault by a police officer, San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office spokesman Christopher Lee said. Lee added that the jury agreed on Foster's guilt in the incident, but was deadlocked, 8-4, on the same charges against Michael Phelps, 31, and Nicholas Downey, 34, two other deputies involved. Prosecutors have not decided whether to retry Phelps and Downey.

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The incident, on April 9, 2015, began with deputies arriving at a home to serve a search warrant in an identity theft case. Francis Pusok, who was present at the scene but not a suspect, although he had been arrested several times previously, fled at the sight othe deputies. A three-hour chase across the county's desert, which involved Pusok escaping on a stolen motorcycle and later a stolen horse, ended with a confrontation with officers. Video from a live television report from a hovering helicopter showed Pusok being beaten by the officers.

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Pusok received a $650,000 settlement from the county after the incident. His trial, on charges including evading a police officer, resisting arrest, stealing an animal, cruelty to an animal and being under the influence of drugs, and vehicle theft, is scheduled to start in May.

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