The beating was filmed by a helicopter news camera and quickly went viral, leading to an FBI investigation and ten of the deputies being placed on leave.
Pusok was being pursued after fleeing in a vehicle when officers showed up to serve an arrest warrant pertaining to an identity theft case. The man later ditched the car and stole a horse as police chased him through rugged rural terrain.
When the police ultimately caught up to him, the officers began beating him, and in a span of two minutes the man was punched 37 times, kicked 17 times, and hit four times with a baton. He was then left to lay in the dirt for 45 minutes before receiving any medical treatment.
An expensive trend
In the nearby city of Los Angeles, between 2002 and 2011 there was $13,848,558,900 paid in settlements to resolve lawsuits against the LAPD — that amounts to over one billion dollars a year.
In New York City, a lawsuit is filed every two and a half hours against the NYPD. They are sued so often, in fact, that the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, said that the 2015 budget would have to included $674 million dollars for settlements and judgements against the police. The budget allotted for police negligence and misconduct is more than the budget for the Parks Department, Department of Aging, and the New York Public Library combined.
In October of last year, documents released by the New York City Law Department after a FOIA request was submitted by MuckRock showed over 12,000 cases against the NYPD since 2009. Over $428,000,000 was paid in settlements in these cases over only five years.
As of 2014, the city of Chicago had also paid out nearly a half a billion dollars in settlements over the last decade.
— Kayvan Khalatbari (@kayvanfordenver) April 4, 2015
Over the past seven years, taxpayers in Minneapolis have paid out over $20 million dollars to settle cases stemming from police brutality. In just 2011, $4.7 million taxpayer dollars went to cover the costs of officer misconduct.
The money for settlements relating to abuse and negligence at the hands of police officers is not paid by the officers who inflicted the damages, but by taxpayers. It is for this reason that many police accountability activists have been pushing for legislation requiring police to carry personal liability insurance similar to what doctors are required to carry.
Activists pushing for this change believe that if the money for these settlements came from the police themselves, they would be more likely to refrain from abuse, to protect their own wallets. If an officer caused too many settlements, he or she would also eventually become uninsurable, and be forced off duty.