Yesterday, we shared a very troubling story out of Bakersfield, where David Sal Silva was allegedly beaten by Kern County deputies. Silva died in-custody.
Here is a 911 call about the incident.
One report said the following, “And though several witnesses caught the brutal murder on camera, police immediately seized cell phones from every one they could find in the area. The only one that has made it into the public is the grainy surveillance video below.”
Another witness, Ms. Melissa Quair, told the KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News in Bakersfield that Kern County police showed up at her house a couple hours after she left the scene and forced her to give them the cell phones with the video. Though she and her mother initially refused to give up the phones, the cops basically threatened them with violence, saying they are going to take the phones “one way or another.” Ms. Quair and her family were held hostage in their own home by the Kern County police for nearly 12 hours, until they “complied.”
Mr. Jason Land, another witness, said he was so traumatized after seeing the murder, he didn’t know what to do. Mr. Land said the police acted like “animals” when they brutally beat Mr. Silva to death right in front of him. He went to a local news station to tell his account. A few hours later, police arrested him and charged him with being on PCP. Of course there were no drugs involved at all, and police, according to Mr. Land, tried to get him to change his story about what he witnessed. Mr. Land is now fearful he will be targeted by police.
That same post also offers this about the possible assailants:
The two California Highway Patrol assailants’ names are being withheld, but the seven Kern County cops involved are Ryan Greer, Douglas Sword, Tanner Miller, Jeffrey Kelly, Luis Almanza, Brian Brock and David Stephens.
Greer was one of the four Kern County cops involved in the December 18, 2010 death of Mr. Jose Lucero, who was mentally ill. Greer and the other cops tasered Mr. Lucero 29 times in six minutes, and for good measure, pepper-sprayed him. This was all done right in front of Mr. Lucero’s parents. The incident ended up costing Kern County $4.5 million, the judgment rewarded to the family in November as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit. We are continuing to conduct further public and otherwise records searches to determine if any of the other assailants have prior criminal records as well.
Silva’s story also made The Los Angeles Times:
In an unusual move, sheriff’s officials later detained for several hours two witnesses who had videotaped the incident on their phones. They were released only after they surrendered their phones to deputies.
“It makes it look like a coverup,” said David Cohn, a lawyer for Silva’s children and parents, adding that he has not been able to see the footage. “What we’re all concerned about is, ‘Are these videos going to be altered? Are they going to be deleted?’ ”
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said in an interview Monday that it was too early in the investigation to reach any conclusions about Silva’s death. But he defended the decision to take custody of the phones as a way of preserving possible evidence. The sheriff said his office obtained a search warrant for the phones.
“We still have to secure the evidence, especially when the evidence can tell us whether we did it right or wrong,” Youngblood said.
He said his agency, to remove the appearance of any conflict, has asked the Bakersfield Police Department to analyze the phone videos.
Finally, here is a raw video of the Silva family press conference.