(Reuters) - A southern California sheriff said on Thursday he had ordered an investigation into the use of force by several deputies who could be seen on a TV news video savagely beating a man who had fled on horseback.
Around noon local time sheriffs deputies went to serve a search warrant at the home of 30-year-old Francis Pusok, who fled from officers in a car in rural Apple Valley, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.
Pusok later ditched the car and stole a horse from a group of people, leading officers on a pursuit through the rugged and hilly terrain, the statement said.
Footage captured by a news helicopter for NBC Los Angeles and published online showed the man fall off his horse at the end of the chase and two deputies deploy what appear to be tasers on him.
The video shows Pusok falling to the ground, spreading his hands out above his head, before placing them behind his back. Over the next roughly two minutes, the video shows about 10 officers swarm the man, kicking and kneeing his head and crotch, punching his head and back, and stepping on him.
"The video surrounding this arrest is disturbing," Sheriff John McMahon said in the statement.
The incident comes as police violence has been under increased scrutiny, following nationwide protests over police killings of unarmed black men in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and most recently, North Charleston and South Carolina.
The sheriff's department statement said three deputies were injured during the incident - two suffering from dehydration and one who was kicked by the horse. Pusok and the deputies were taken to the hospital.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Michael Perry)