Video Shows San Bernardino Deputies Beating Man…Nurses Say Health Care in Alameda Jails is Broken…and Walter ScottApril 10th, 2015 by Taylor Walker
HELICOPTER FOOTAGE SHOWS A GROUP OF SAN BERNARDINO DEPUTIES BEATING A MAN ON THE GROUND AFTER A HORSE CHASE
On Thursday, video captured from NBC’s NewsChopper4 appeared to show a small crowd of San Bernardino County deputies beating a reportedly unarmed man during an arrest.
The man, Francis Jared Pusok, 30, lead officers on an intense chase, by car, on foot, and finally, on a stolen horse. When deputies caught up with Pusok, the horse bucked, throwing Pusok to the ground. The man, still on the ground, then spread his arms out and then put them behind his back, after which, deputies appear to taser him. Then, the video shows a number of deputies gather around Pusok, punching, kicking, and kneeing the man dozens of times for more than two minutes.
Allegedly the man was then left lying on the ground for at least 45 minutes without medical attention. Pusok is now in a hospital being treated for unknown injuries.
San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon said he was “disturbed” by the video and quickly launched an internal investigation.
NBC’s Jason Kandel and Tony Shin have the story. Here are some clips:
In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times and punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head. The allegedly stolen horse stood idly nearby.
The man did not appear to move from his position lying on the ground for more than 45 minutes. He did not appear to receive medical attention while deputies stood around him during that time…
Three deputies were injured during the search. Two suffered dehydration and a third was injured when kicked by the horse. All three were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Deputies said the Taser was ineffective due to his loose clothing and a use of force occurred.
“I can certainly understand the concerns in the community based on what they saw on the video,” McMahon told NBC4. “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 sheriff’s 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.”
PRIVATE HEALTH CARE CO. NURSES IN ALAMEDA JAILS THREATEN TO STRIKE IF MEDICAL CONDITIONS DO NOT IMPROVE FOR INMATES
Nurses employed by a troubled private company in charge of health care in Alameda County jails say they will strike if the company doesn’t improve the substandard care provided to inmates.
The Corizon nurses are calling on the company to add more nurses to the rotation. One worker said the ratio can sometimes be as bad as 23 inmate patients to one nurse. She says, at most, the ratio is five patients to one nurse in regular hospitals. The nurses also say medical equipment is often broken or unsanitary.
The understaffing means that medication often goes out hours late, medical intakes are rushed, and sometimes inmates die due to lack of adequate and timely health care, according to the nurses.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers is sending around a strike petition. If union members vote in favor of striking, the decision will be announced to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and the Board of Supervisors.
Corizon is no stranger to lawsuits. In February, Corizon (and Alameda County) agreed to a record-breaking $8.3 million wrongful death settlement to the family of a jail inmate who was tasered to death by ten deputies while suffering from severe, untreated alcohol withdrawal.
As part of the settlement, Corizon agreed to stop hiring less expensive Licensed Vocational Nurses instead of Registered Nurses (as state law requires) to perform inmate medical intakes.
Think Progress’ Alice Ollstein has the story. Here are some clips:
Clara, who works as a Registered Nurse at the jail, described abysmal conditions including broken or dirty equipment, rushed procedures and severe understaffing.
For example, when inmates are first booked, nurses examine them and ask them about their full medical history. Clara said Corizon’s procedures in this phase, designed to save time and money, puts everyone at risk.
“The patients come in right off the street. They’re often under the influence of drugs. You don’t know what their mental state is,” she said. “They’ve got three nurses seeing three inmates at once in one little cramped room, maybe 15 by 15 feet. So there’s no confidentiality. One inmate is sitting so close he could touch the next one, and we’re asking them very personal questions, like if they’re HIV positive. HIPAA [privacy] laws are totally violated there.”
DEATH OF WALTER SCOTT: LAPD CHIEF SAYS SHOOTING WAS UNLAWFUL…WHAT NEWS REPORTS WOULD HAVE SAID IF THE INCIDENT HAD NOT BEEN TAPED…THE DASH CAM VIDEO…AND SC’S RACIAL HISTORY
On Thursday, LA Police Chief Charlie Beck said that as far as he could tell, South Carolina officer Michael Slager’s fatal shooting of the allegedly unarmed, fleeing Walter Scott was “a criminal act.”
The Associated Press’ Tami Abdollah has the story. Here are some clips:
Beck said he would have similarly had the officer arrested based on the video by the bystander. But he also said he’d typically do a more detailed investigation before making such a judgment.
“I will tell you this, based on what I have seen, based on the video, it is a criminal act,” Beck said. “It is well beyond any policies of the Los Angeles Police Department.”
Beck said such an incident impacts all officers, but it doesn’t diminish his pride in their willingness to take risks daily.
“To have somebody 3,000 miles away take away from that by a criminal act, it’s disheartening,” Beck said. “All of us suffer when somebody in the profession acts illegally.”
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Nick Wing have penned a version of what they believe news reports would have looked like, had a bystander not videotaped the shooting. Here’s how it opens:
A North Charleston police officer was forced to use his service weapon Saturday during a scuffle with a suspect who tried to overpower him and seize the officer’s Taser, authorities said.
The man, who has a history of violence and a long arrest record, died on the scene as a result of the encounter, despite officers performing CPR and delivering first aid, according to police reports.
The shooting was the 11th this year by a South Carolina police officer. The State Law Enforcement Division has begun an investigation into the incident.
Police identified the officer involved as Patrolman 1st Class Michael Thomas Slager and the suspect as Walter Lamar Scott, 50, of Meadowlawn Drive in West Ashley. Slager, 33, served honorably in the military before joining the North Charleston Police Department more than five years ago. He has never been disciplined during his time on the force, his attorney said.
The incident occurred behind a pawn shop on Craig Street and Remount Road. Slager initially pulled Scott over for a broken taillight. During the stop, police and witnesses say Scott fled the vehicle on foot. When Slager caught up with him a short distance from the street, Scott reportedly attempted to overpower Slager. Police say that during the struggle, the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.
On Thursday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division released dash camera footage of the incident. The video shows the initial traffic stop for a broken tail light, which wasn’t captured by the anonymous bystander’s video.
And for some interesting context, the New Yorker’s Jack Hitt delves into South Carolina’s complicated racial history. Here’s a clip:
The police officer was fired and charged with murder. North Charleston’s mayor, Keith Summey, announced, “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong” and said that police officers can’t hide a bad decision “behind the shield.” He said that the police force’s “thoughts and prayers are with the family.” North Charleston’s police chief, Eddie Driggers, said he was “sickened.” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who rose to office as a darling of the Tea Party, said that the shooting was “unacceptable.” Senator Lindsey Graham called the video “horrific.” Senator Tim Scott, an African-American Republican who grew up in North Charleston, called the shooting “senseless” and “avoidable.” The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, known as SLED, immediately took control of the investigation, and the F.B.I. has opened its own investigation, as well. The victim’s brother told the local paper, “We don’t advocate violence. We advocate change.”
I grew up in Charleston, and, as someone close to North Charleston’s mayor told me, “Before the sun was down, everyone was unified.”
It’s crucial to point out that had the bystander not turned on his smartphone camera, that creaky counter-narrative—I thought he was reaching for my weapon—would almost certainly have given Slager a pass. And no doubt, the swiftness of the political and narrative unity in the shooting death of Scott owes much to the lessons of Ferguson. But South Carolina is not Missouri—its racial past, in fact, is more violent, but its attempts to move away from that history, while less known, have been more bold. The state’s history of violence against black men and women is excruciating to know, or to read. If you are unfamiliar, then Google “George Junius Stinney, Jr.,” “Julia and Frazier Baker,” the Hamburg massacre, or the Orangeburg massacre. That is South Carolina at its worst. But there is a streak of fair-mindedness in the state’s history—an ancient ideal that Mark Twain parodied as coming straight out of the chivalric fiction of Sir Walter Scott’s mist-filled novels of courtly knights. While reserved exclusively for whites for most of its history, this tendency appears from time to time and is always surprising, especially to outsiders.
All Charlestonians are required to know the story of their Civil War-era representative, James Petigru, the state’s only Unionist, who voted against secession. Charlestonians have made a centuries-long career out of tweaking the rest of the state for its rustic views. Petigru opposed withdrawing from the United States back then because, as it is often quoted, “South Carolina is too small to be a Republic, and too large to be an insane asylum.”
But even during the collapse of Reconstruction, when racist Democrats took back control of the state’s government from Republican politicians backed by federal troops, there was a streak of fair play in the reformed Confederate General Wade Hampton, who was elected governor in 1876, and who, in his inaugural speech, said, “It is due, not only to ourselves, but to the colored people of the State, that wise, just, and liberal measures should prevail in our legislation.” (To those writing rebuttal posts right now to argue that this was mere racist palaver, I will note that however rhetorical Hampton’s views were, those earliest attempts at sane post-bellum racial decency in South Carolina were relatively real efforts at moderation, despite the fact they were, absolutely, crushed underfoot by pro-lynching extremists, like “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, who thought that Hampton was out of his mind.) In the mid-twentieth century, a famous Charleston judge named Julius Waties Waring sought to steer a number of criminal cases toward the ideal of fair play, including a hideous police beating of a black man and later a local desegregation case that would eventually merge with others to become Brown v. Board. A cross was burned in the judge’s yard, and he eventually fled the state.