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Francis Pusok, the California man seen on video being beaten by San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies after he stole a horse last week, told NBC News on Monday that he was handcuffed during "99 percent" of the pummeling and unable to protect himself.
Then, after the beating was ending, Pusok says a deputy whispered in his ear: "This isn't over."
Ten deputies have been suspended pending three investigations of the beating, which was recorded live by NBC Los Angeles on Thursday.
Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley, who fled and stole a horse when deputies showed up at a house he was visiting, was thrown from the horse after a two-hour pursuit in San Bernardino National Park. In the video, Pusok is shot with a Taser and falls to the ground. Two deputies begin kicking and punching Pusok and then other deputies arrive and join in, the video shows.
Pusok said he fled when the deputies — who authorities said were serving a warrant at the house in an unrelated case — arrived "because any contact with the police has been negative for me." Court records show Pusok has an extensive criminal record, including a 233-day sentence for obstructing an officer and resisting an officer in 2013.
"I think that's one of they reasons why they beat me," said Pusok, who occasionally consulted his lawyer and his girlfriend before speaking in the NBC News interview. And "after it happened, one of the deputies whispered in my left ear, 'This isn't over.'"
The sheriff's office told NBC News it had no comment.
Pusok's girlfriend, Jolene Bindner, appeared shocked as Pusok recounted the beating, saying even she hadn't heard all of the details. She flinched as Pusok described having his face pushed into the sand, and she gasped when Pusok said he was shot with the Taser three times, twice after he was already handcuffed.
"You're feeling every punch, kick, hit, Taser hit," she said. "They were trying to suffocate him."
The sheriff's office is conducting an internal investigation and a separate criminal investigation after Sheriff John McMahon said last week that he was "disturbed and troubled by what I see in the video."
The FBI has also opened an investigation, it said.
Pusok was treated for abrasions and bruising, released from the hospital and booked Thursday night at the West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of evading, stolen property, reckless driving and theft of a horse. He was released Sunday night and was scheduled for a court hearing June 16. San Bernardino County prosecutors said Monday that no decision on whether to file formal charges had been made.
- Ten California Deputies Put on Leave After Video Shows Beating of Suspect
- California Sheriff Investigates 'Disturbing' Video of Suspect Being Beaten