What Kern County Sheriff and Witnesses to Silva Beating Death Are Saying

The David Sal Silva case in Bakersfield is just beginning to get major media attention, including an article in The New York Times. The Los Angeles Times has quickly become one of the outlets providing constant updates of the case, which led to the Silva’s in-custody death after Kern County and California Highway Patrol officers allegedly beat Silva.

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Today the LA Times has provided some additional updates about the case.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, according to reports, has placed his six officers on paid leave “because they have received emailed threats.” Youngblood also spoke to the cell phone videos of the incident taken by neighbors. These videos were first confiscated by Bakersfield police, but as of yesterday are with the FBI. The story says that only one video was found by the Bakersfield police, even though two cell phones were taken by them.

At a Tuesday news conference, Youngblood addressed the one video: “I have seen the video. I cannot speculate whether [the officers] acted appropriately or not just by looking at the video. Baton strikes were used but what I don’t know is how many and where they were on the body and if they caused significant injury that caused death.”

Even though Youngblood and the Bakersfield police are saying that only one video was found, witnesses are disputing that conclusion. Here is what the LA Times reported:

In interviews Tuesday, witnesses insisted that the videos on both phones — each several minutes long — clearly captured deputies repeatedly striking Silva with batons.”They must have gotten rid of one of the videos,” said Melissa Quair, 31, who told of seeing deputies pummel and kick Silva after confronting him across the street from Kern Medical Center in East Bakersfield. Quair and several relatives and friends were at the hospital because a family member had been in a car crash.

Quair said a phone video shot by her mother showed a deputy trying to block her view of the beating. “She went around him and told him, ‘I’m still recording,’ ” Quair said.

Laura Vasquez, 26, a friend of the Quair family, said she also watched both videos — the other shot by a friend of Melissa Quair — and they vividly depicted the violence she witnessed.

Echoing the account of two other people interviewed, Vasquez said the first two deputies at the scene woke Silva, who was sleeping in front of a house, and ordered him not to move. When Silva sat up, looking confused or scared, a deputy hit him in the head, Vasquez said.

“He fell back and then the other officer got out and swung toward his head,” she said. “Mr. Silva was reaching for his head and the officers said ‘stop moving’ and ‘stop resisting.’ He wasn’t resisting.… He rolled on his back and they kept hitting.”

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