Despite a coroner’s report that determined a man died of heart disease at the exact moment he was being beaten by sheriff’s deputies in California, Kern County agreed to a $3.4 million settlement with the man’s family this week.
The autopsy, however, was always questionable considering the Kern County Coroner reports to the Kern County Sheriff, whose deputies attacked David Sal Silva in a horrific beating caught on video.
Deputies also confiscated cameras from witnesses after the beating.
It all took place on May 8, 2013 when deputies reported to a scene where Silva was asleep on a front lawn. After they gave him a “knuckle rub” to wake him up, they began beating him with batons for eight minutes while he begged deputies to stop, according to witnesses.
During this time, police released a K-9 on Silva and he was bitten several times before they hogtied him and slammed him to the ground twice.
After the repeated beating by Sheriff’s deputies and the dog bites, Silva stopped breathing.
PINAC news reported about Kern County’s autopsy back in May of 2013 in article that raised questions about the legitimacy of the autopsy, which found that deputies did not cause Silva’s death when they beat him with batons and slammed him to the ground.
Instead, the Kern County Coroner found Silva died of hypertensive heart disease which killed him during the moments deputies just happened to be beating him.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood criticized media coverage at the time for the community’s reaction to Silva’s death, “I think the media caused a lot of this hysteria that occurred in this community.”
Sheriff Youngblood has continually blamed heart disease, the media, anyone but the deputies who killed Silva and said in a news interview he didn’t agree with settling with the family.
According to Bakersfield Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found, “there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a federal criminal prosecution, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But after Silva died, Kern County deputies went to the homes of two people who’d recorded it and seized their phones.
One phone was seized without a warrant. The second phone was seized with a warrant, but only after the witnesses had their lawyer arrive on the scene who forced police to get one.
The sheriff said they were just there seizing the phones to protect evidence.
Attorney’s for the witnesses said, “This was not a crime scene where the evidence was going to be destroyed. These were concerned citizens who were basically doing a civic duty of preserving the evidence, not destroying it as they (sheriff deputies) tried to make it seem.”
Six people in total saw the incident. None of them knew Silva beforehand. All said they witnessed deputies beating him to death.
To this day, none of the deputies have been charged.
Even after the multimillion dollar settlement, the family says it’s not over and they’re still looking for justice.
“It feels like no time has passed,” said Chris Silva, David’s brother.
“We just want people to know that we’re not letting this go. We’re not letting this be in the hands of lawyers. It’s not okay for this to be a civil lawsuit. It’s not okay that these officers are going to hide behind ‘oh, they did their job and that my brother resisted, or he deserved his ends,” he said.
Police in Kern County killed 13 people in 2015, which has a population of 875,000.
That’s more than New York City, where 9 people were killed, which has a population 10 times of Kern County and has about 23 times as many sworn law enforcement officers patrolling the area.