It’s pretty damn sad to be a middle-aged man drunk and passed out in public, but it shouldn’t be a death sentence as it was for a Bakersfield man named David Silva.
According to eyewitnesses, Silva was passed out in the street when Kern County Sheriff’s deputies Sgt. Douglas Sword, Deputy Ryan Greer, Deputy Tanner Miller, Deputy Jeffrey Kelly, Deputy Luis Almanza, Deputy Brian Brock, and Deputy David Stephens decided to beat him to death.
A statement from the sheriff’s department said a deputy and K9 were sent to the area after someone reported a possibly intoxicated man. The deputy called for backup and another seven officers plus two members of the California Highway Patrol showed up.
The statement said Silva resisted when the deputies tried to restrain him, forcing them to use their batons on him.
However, multiple witnesses, many of whom filmed the violent scene unfolding, claim the attack was completely unprovoked.
Sulina Quair, 34, called 911 and can be heard saying: ‘There’s a man laying on the floor, and your police officers beat the **** out of him and killed him…
‘I got it all on video camera and I’m sending it to the news. These cops have no reason to do this to this man. You’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead, laying here right here, right now.’
Follow the link to see some grainy video that may as well be a moving rorschach test.
The problem with the human animal is its herd mentality. Without extremely strong morals and ethics, most of us—I’d argue a supermajority—can be desensitized and programmed to do truly horrific things. This seems to be the status quo in Kern County law enforcement circles.
It is an outrage that these law enforcement officers apparently beat a man to death that wasn’t a threat to them or anyone else. It is even more of an outrage that this isn’t apparently a one-off affair; Kerns County Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s deputies have a reputation of violence:
The Silva episode follows several high-profile brutality cases involving the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in recent years.
One led to criminal convictions of three deputies and a $6-million civil judgment in the 2005 death of a jail inmate, according to attorneys. Another resulted in a $4.5-million court award for the family of a man who died in 2010 after being struck 33 times with batons and shot 29 times with Tasers, attorneys said.
A deputy accused in the civil lawsuit over the 2010 death has the same name as one of those who confronted Silva. Youngblood would not confirm that it was the same deputy, however.
At the moment, allegations of an attempted cover-up seem to be plausible, and Sheriff Youngblood needs to understand that if he allows this sort of behavior to continue, he’s putting the lives of all of his personnel at risk. If people in Kern County come to feel that even the most routine and benign interactions with the deputies could end up in fatalities, they may instead opt for preemptive violence against law enforcement officers over the most trivial offenses.
When law enforcement becomes just another armed gang, the rest of the society will begin treating them like an armed gang, and deputies are going to start going to the morgue instead of home at the end of their shifts.
Considering the history here, Sheriff Youngblood needs to immediately suspend these deputies (incredibly, they are all still working), and make sure that the investigation is handled by an impartial 3rd party department, in the most transparent way possible. If he cannot regain public confidence in his department then he impeaches his own credibility, and must resign.