David Silva Beating Death Story Makes New York Times… Finally

May 15, 2013
2:19 PM

It looks like the tragic case of the David Sal Silva, whose last moments of life involved an alleged brutal encounter with law enforcement officials in Bakersfield last week, has begun to get national media attention. Yesterday the AP and CNN ran pieces, and today The New York Times published its first story about the incident.

Here is the beginning of the New York Times story:

When Maria Melendez emerged from Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, Calif., just before midnight last Tuesday, she said, she heard screams that have kept her awake at night for an entire week.

A half-dozen Kern County sheriff’s deputies were across the street beating a man with clubs and kicking him, she said. So she whipped out her mobile phone and began to video the episode, announcing to the officers what she was doing.

For about eight minutes, Ms. Melendez said, the man screamed and cried for help. Then he went silent, she said, making only choking sounds.

Finally, having hogtied him, a number of witnesses said, two officers picked up the man and dropped him, twice. One deputy nudged the man with his foot. When he did not respond, they began CPR.

“He was like a piece of meat,” said Ms. Melendez, 53, who was visiting her son at the hospital after he was injured in a car accident. “We were telling them: ‘He’s dead. You guys already killed him.’

Menendez was one of the individuals who had her cellphone seized by police. It has caused a controvers that Latino Rebels has chronicled here. The Silva case has also led to an FBI investigation, upon request of the Kern County Sheriff.


The New York Times story added additional details about the night of Silva’s death:

Laura Vasquez, who was with Ms. Melendez, recalled the encounter very differently.

She said that sheriff’s deputies told Mr. Silva to stay on the ground. When he tried to get up, she said, deputies ran up and hit him in the head with their clubs. Soon, she said, he was crying for help as at least eight officers hit him, kicked him and pressed their knees into his chest and stomach.

“For the first couple minutes he was screaming for help, basically pleading for his life,” said Ms. Vasquez, 26. “Then we couldn’t see him anymore. That’s how many cops were on top of him.”

After everyone had gone home, sheriff’s detectives showed up at the house of Ms. Melendez’s daughter, Melissa Quair, about 3 a.m.

Ms. Quair said she and her boyfriend were kept from leaving the house for three hours. When her boyfriend tried to leave for work, a detective shoved him, closed the door and told him to hand over his phone, she said. Eventually he did.

Ms. Melendez said her phone was also confiscated by sheriff’s detectives at Ms. Quair’s house later the same day. Mr. Pruitt and a sheriff’s detective investigating the case would not discuss the seizures.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that one unidentified woman has come forth and said that was going to get a security video of “a sheriff’s deputy beating a man to the victim’s family — and no one else.” Here is what the LA Times reported:

“I heard the cops were going around taking people’s phones. I thought, ‘Oh my God, oh my God. How do I get it to the family before the cops come searching my house and destroy it?'” said the 31-year-old mother of four, who asked not to be identified because she fears backlash from authorities.

She was the only one who knew her security video of the May 8 beating existed.