The Kern County Coroner – who reports to the Kern County Sheriff – determined that Kern County deputies did not cause the death of a 33-year-old man whom numerous witnesses said was beaten viciously with batons and kicked to the head before he was hogtied and slammed to the ground twice.
So that should put to rest to any speculation that deputies did anything wrong on the night David Silva died.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood said his deputies were trying their best to help him but Silva when they roused him from a slumber after he had passed out in front of a house, but the father of four was able to fight off seven deputies, two California Highway Patrol officers and one dog before he finally succumbed to heart disease.
Hypertensive heart disease, to be exact.
The autopsy also determined that Silva had methamphetamine in his system as well as a blood alcohol content of .095, just slightly over the legal limit to drive in most states.
During a news conference Thursday, Youngblood said only three deputies delivered blows to Silva, and none to the head or neck.
Youngblood said the first deputy to arrive found Silva lying on the ground and gave him a knuckle rub on the chest to try to wake him up.
According to the sheriff: Silva got up on his knees and then fell over on his face. When the deputy tried to help him up, Silva “took a rigid stance.” The deputy warned Silva he would release a police dog on him if he did not cooperate. When Silva continued to resist, the deputy remotely released the dog from his cruiser. The dog bit Silva several times and bit the handler deputy as well, Youngblood said. Silva grabbed the dog by the throat.
More deputies arrived, and the struggle continued, the sheriff said.
Youngblood had strong words about coverage of the case: “I think the media caused a lot of this hysteria that occurred in this community,” he said.]
The truth is, there has not been enough hysteria about this case. Six people, none who knew Silva beforehand, said they witnessed deputies beating him to death.
Two of them recorded video, which police bullied into handing over. One of those videos was apparently deleted by either Kern County sheriff’s deputies or Bakersfield police.
The FBI, however, is still investigating and have not made any public statements. Call them at their Los Angeles field office at (310) 477-6565 or email them at losangeles.fbi.gov to let them know we’re paying attention.
The other video, which was recorded after Silva was already hogtied, which was when they stopped beating him with batons, captured the blood curdling cries of a man being tortured.
A third video from a home security camera shows the swinging of batons but it’s dark and grainy. Those videos are below along with the calls to dispatch describing the scene.
Also, video from CHP dash cams have not been released nor have the audio recordings from the devices they were wearing on their uniform.
Below are witness statements from earlier Los Angeles Times articles:
At about midnight, Ruben Ceballos, 19,was awakened by screams and loud banging noises outside his home. He said he ran to the left side of his house to find out who was causing the ruckus.
“When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head,” Ceballos said.
Silva was on the ground screaming for help, but officers continued to beat him, Ceballos said.
After several minutes, Ceballos said, Silva stopped screaming and was no longer responsive.
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.”
More deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers arrived at the location. Vasquez said the deputies hogtied Silva, lifted him off the ground and dropped him twice, and delivered more baton blows and kicks to his head and body until he went limp.
“He was screaming for help. He was laying on his chest. The cops were still on top of him, still hitting him. My family and I screamed at them to stop hitting him.… The blood was all over Mr. Silva’s face. We couldn’t even tell if he had eyes or a mouth.”
Vasquez said her girlfriend yelled, ” ‘Somebody call the cops,’ and everybody looked at her and said, ‘They ARE the cops.’ “
So it is essential that Silva’s family demands another autopsy from an independent pathologist.
After all, it’s not like medical examiners have never lied before to protect the interest of their cohorts..
Take the case of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who was tortured to death by guards in a Florida boot camp in 2006.
The death became a cause célèbre and received national attention. The local Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Siebert, performed an autopsy and ruled that the teen died of “complications from sickle cell trait”. He said, “It was a natural death.” This caused further public outcry. The Governor ordered a second autopsy; the second pathologist, Dr. Vern Adams, ruled Martin Anderson’s death was “caused by suffocation due to actions of the guards at the boot camp. The suffocation was caused by manual occlusion of the mouth, in concert with forced inhalation of ammonia fumes that caused spasm of the vocal cords resulting in internal blockage of the upper airway.”