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San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy convicted in videotaped beating of Apple Valley man reinstated

A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy who was convicted in connection with the videotaped beating of an Apple Valley man in 2015 and successfully appealed his termination has been reinstated by the department.
Charles Foster, 37, is now assigned to the sheriff’s Corrections and Detentions Bureau, according to Sgt. Marc Bracco. However, Bracco could not disclose when Foster was reinstated, citing legal reasons.
“Anything related to his civil service hearing or discipline cannot be commented on due to California laws  …,” Bracco said. “That’s all we can say on the matter.”
Foster’s attorney, Heather N. Phillips, however, said she was informed of Foster’s reinstatement in April.
“We received the decision on his administrative appeal on April 17, 2018,” Phillips said in an email Thursday. “His termination was voided as though it never occurred and he was returned to work based on a finding that termination was excessive discipline.”
Phillips said Foster has returned to full duty at the same pay rate he was receiving when he was placed on leave last year.
Specifically, Foster is working at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, said Miles Kowalski, the Sheriff’s Department’s general counsel.
Lolita Harper, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA), the union representing sheriff’s deputies, said Foster is “proudly serving the community as a SEBA member.”
“He endured a three-year-long legal and administrative process and was successful in his battle for reinstatement. He is grateful to be continuing his career with the Sheriff’s Department,” Harper said in a statement Thursday.
Foster and former Deputies Nicholas Downey and Michael Phelps were each charged in September 2015 with one felony count of assault by a public officer for the April 9, 2015, videotaped beating of Francis Jared Pusok, a convicted felon with a laundry list of offenses, including evading police. The beating was the culmination of a three-hour pursuit on foot, in car and horseback through the High Desert cities of Apple Valley, Victorville, and Hesperia.
An NBC news crew, hovering 8,000 feet above in a helicopter, recorded video of Phelps and Downey swooping down on Pusok after he fell off a horse he had stolen from Deep Creek Hot Springs in Apple Valley. Downey and Phelps repeatedly punched and kicked Pusok while yelling “Stop resisting!” Several more deputies arrived and assisted in detaining Pusok. While their actions also came under scrutiny by the District Attorney’s Office, the other deputies were not charged with any crimes.
During the trio’s trial last year, the jury deadlocked 8-4, in favor of conviction, on Phelps and Downey. But instead of having a second trial, Downey and Phelps entered into plea agreements with prosecutors, each  pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace. They each were sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.
Foster, however, was convicted at trial. However, at the time of his sentencing, Judge Dwight W. Moore granted a motion for a new trial filed by Phillips. Moore concurred with Phillips that the jury reached its guilty verdict based, in part, on an improper jury instruction given by prosecutor Robert Bulloch and, in part, based on inflammatory comments on Foster’s audio belt recorder.
Moore found that the evidence presented did not prove Foster’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Instead of going to trial a second time, Foster opted to enter into the same plea agreement as Downey and Phelps, pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace. He was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation.
Foster was discharged from probation on May 18, Deputy Chief Probation Officer Kimberly Epps said.
Within weeks of the videotaped beating, the county approached Pusok, offering him a settlement of $650,000, which Pusok accepted. His attorney, Jim Terrell, was not pleased hearing of Foster’s reinstatement.
“Truth be told, the entire judicial system is broken in San Bernardino, from the top to the bottom. The federal government needs to evaluate and assist the citizens of San Bernardino,” Terrell said in a statement Thursday.
Terrell blamed Judge Moore for vacating Foster’s conviction and outgoing District Attorney Mike Ramos for undermining his own prosecutor, Robert Bulloch, while the jury was still deliberating. Bulloch’s comments during his closing argument at trial about the Sheriff’s Department fostering a “culture of violence” prompted a swift apology demand by SEBA . Both Ramos and Bulloch capitulated.
Terrell said Bulloch was forced to apologize for “telling the truth.”
“Robert Bullock is a hero. He was truthful,” Terrell said.

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