A troubling story out of Bakersfield has taken a very serious turn after local TV ran a video of what appears to be Kern County deputies beating an intoxicated David Sal Silva repeatedly last Wednesday. Silva eventually died in-custody, according to local reports:
The grainy black and white video appears to show the alleged victim, David Silva, 33, lying on the ground. Another person is then seen walking up to Silva and attempting to pick him up. Both men appear to scuffle, and after a few minutes, Silva is seen being struck with an object.
Other cars are seen arriving at the scene with lights flashing on top of them. Several other men are then seen in the video, also striking Silva more than a dozen times with objects. Silva is then seen being taken into custody.
Kern County Sheriff’s officials say Silva developed breathing problems following the fight and was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he died less than an hour later.
At least two other witnesses told 23ABC deputies confiscated their cell phone video of the encounter. They have now hired attorneys.
The person who supplied the video to 23ABC said they were afraid to go on camera, but they said they were afraid of a cover-up by deputies and wanted “the truth to come out.”
Here is the raw video of the incident:
Meanwhile, the story continues to get more complicated, as
On a day when several people gathered for a memorial event at the site of Silva’s fatal beating and the first audio and video surfaced, an attorney for his family demanded access to videos taken by bystanders while the Kern County sheriff pleaded for patience.
At a news conference at his downtown Bakersfield office, attorney David Cohn, representing the Silva family, said the videos were vital evidence. He expressed concern about tampering.
“Those videos that were taken are the most important piece to this case and another main concern is that those videos aren’t altered or destroyed by the Sheriff’s Department,” said Cohn, of the firm Chain, Cohn, Stiles.
Later in the day, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he was asking the public to be patient and give his office the opportunity to conduct an investigation. He was critical of comments made by lawyers for the family and the witnesses.
“It appears that a couple attorneys are making statements based on I don’t know what because the investigation hasn’t been completed yet,” Youngblood said.
Cohn was flanked at the news conference by Silva’s mother, father and brother. They did not speak.
Cohn said he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal District Court in Fresno next week.
Also on Friday, witnesses provided new accounts of the beating and of sheriff’s department efforts to confiscate their phones.
According the local accounts, police claim that Silva fought with them. However, a 911 call tells a different story:
The 911 call records witness Sulina Quair, 34, saying, “There is a man laying on the floor and your police officers beat the (expletive) out of him and killed him. I have it all on video camera. We videotaped the whole thing.”
The 911 operator asks her supervisor to handle the call and Quair continues, saying she is:
“On the corner of Flower and Palm right now and you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now.”
She adds, “I got it all on video camera and I’m sending it to the news. These cops have no reason to do this to this man.”