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Attorney For Family Of Bakersfield Beating Victim Speaks Out

Kern County Sheriff's Department

The attorney representing the family of the man who was fatally beaten by Kern County Sheriffs deputies May 8 is speaking out today. In an interview with Valley Public Radio, David Cohn said that the way the agencies are handling the case is appalling.

“Our biggest concern is that evidence, and primarily videos that were on cell phones was likely to altered, lost or destroyed and essentially our biggest fears have now become a reality.”

The phones of two witnesses that were confiscated last week were returned this morning to the attorney representing them. Only one of the phones had video of the incident on it. 

Cohn says that it is his understanding that both phone owners recorded video of the incident. 

Last Wednesday, 33-year-old David Sal Silva, attempted to spend the night at Kern Medical Center, but after he was told he couldn’t sleep there he went across the street and fell asleep in front of a house, Cohn said.   

Sometime later, Sheriff’s deputies woke Silva and told him to stay still. According to a witness Silva sat-up and was confused. He was then hit him with a baton. More blows occurred and a little while later more law enforcement arrived. 

“One witness said he was hog-tied and they dropped him a couple of times . . . then he stopped breathing and died.”

Later Cohn says the deputies confiscated the phones of witnesses. But he says the phones aren’t the big issue.

"One witness said he was hog - tied and they dropped him a couple of times . . . then he stopped breathing and died."

  “Those issues pail into comparison to the conduct of the deputy sheriffs and the two CHP officers. I am outraged about how they conducted the investigation."

Cohn says this isn’t the first time an incident like this has taken place in Kern County.

“It’s systemic, it’s cultural, it’s institutional and at some point the Sheriff’s department and the county have to say we can’t continue to do this.”

Cohn hopes that by the end of the week he will have governmental claims filed against the Kern County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood declined our request for comment. 

Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.