FBI Closes Investigation Into Death of David Sal Silva

More bad news for the family of David Sal Silva occurred yesterday when the FBI issued the following statement, essentially ending the federal investigation into Silva’s in-custody death at the hands of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in Bakersfield, California, on May 7, 2013.

CREDIT: Nick Belardes

CREDIT: Nick Belardes

Federal Investigation into Death of David Silva Closed
U.S. Attorney’s Office
October 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA—On the evening of May 7, 2013, David S. Silva passed away in Bakersfield, California. Following his passing, allegations were raised that members of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office who encountered Silva that evening may have applied unreasonable force in subduing him. The matter was referred to the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, and to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, for an evaluation of whether the evidence and circumstances of Mr. Silva’s death established a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.

After carefully examining the evidence, both the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office determined there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a federal criminal prosecution, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the federal investigation of this matter has been closed.

“To maintain the public’s trust and fulfill the high obligations undertaken by all law enforcement, it is critical that we diligently evaluate such allegations,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “We undertook a careful evaluation of the evidence in this case, and we appreciate the assistance we received, particularly from our partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I extend my condolences to the entire Silva family for the loss they suffered with the tragic passing of Mr. Silva.”

The Bakersfield California produced a very in-depth local piece about reaction the FBI news. While Kern County Sheriff (and Medical Examiner) Donny Youngblood said, “I think three separate investigations is all I can do,” reaction from the Silva family hit hard:

Bakersfield attorney Daniel Rodriguez, who is representing Silva’s longtime girlfriend, Tara Garlick, and the couple’s four young children, called the decision by the Justice Department “disappointing.”

“Is that going to have any kind of effect on the civil case?” he asked. “Here’s the answer: Absolutely, positively no way.”

Rodriguez cited the O.J. Simpson case as a classic example. While the ex-football star was acquitted in a criminal court of murdering his wife and a male acquaintance, he was found liable in civil court.

“Why? Because there are a different set of rules, a different set of laws, that apply to a criminal case and that apply to a civil case,” Rodriguez said. “The fact that they’re not going to prosecute the law enforcement people involved in the beating of David Silva will have no effect on the civil case.”

Despite those assurances from plaintiffs’ attorneys, Merri and Christopher Silva, David Silva’s mother and brother, respectively, said Monday they were devastated by the Justice Department’s findings. If deputies present at the scene of the confrontation are not held legally responsible, they said they don’t feel justice will have been done.

“I don’t care about the civil case,” Christopher Silva said.

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