Cell phone footage that was confiscated after the police beating death of a Bakersfield man was released this week, not showing much as far as the beating goes, but capturing David Silva’s horrific screams during the last moments of his life.
However, footage from the second phone that was confiscated that was more incriminating, showing the actual swinging of the batons, was apparently deleted.
And according to an attorney, it doesn’t look as if even the FBI has the capability to recover it because of the type of phone it is (check out video below for details).
Silva, a 33-year-old father of four, was pronounced dead at a Kern Medical Center less than an hour after he was confronted by seven Kern County Sheriff’s deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers on May 7.
Silva was apparently intoxicated and had gone to the hospital to seek treatment but was turned away. He ended up falling asleep in front of a house across the street from the hospital where somebody called authorities to remove him.
When deputies arrived, they roused him from his sleep and started beating him.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
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.’ “
It wasn’t until after he had been pronounced dead at the hospital around midnight that deputies began seeking the footage that had been recorded, calling a witness who had called 911 during the beating and had told a dispatcher that she was recording video.
Maria Melendez had given the dispatcher her phone number, which the deputies used to call her at 2 a.m., asking if she had uploaded the video to the internet yet.
When she said no, they told her, “that’s good,” and “don’t you dare do it,” according to attorney Daniel Rodriguez, who goes into details about the camera confiscations in the video below.
Rodriguez explained that deputies went to Melendez’s house and had her call Francisco Arrieta, who also recorded the beating on his phone, ordering him to come to her house.
Both witnesses refused to hand over their phones without a warrant, so deputies detained them for several hours, refusing to let them out of their sight until a warrant arrived.
Arrieta finally had to go to work a few hours later, so he handed the phone over because he didn’t want to lose his job. Melendez didn’t hand the phone over until 1 p.m. when the warrant arrived.
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The phones were then handed over to the Bakersfield Police Department but when they were returned to the sheriff’s office, footage from Arrieta’s phone was missing, according to the Huffington Post.
Both witnesses were detained illegally, according to Rodriguez, because they had not committed a crime.
Here is some of what Rodriguez said in the above video:
“They don’t have a search warrant and they demand the phones,” he said. “And this thing of ‘freezing the crime scene,’ we have to remind everybody, this was not the crime scene. The crime scene was over at the hospital, so this freezing of the residence is illegal, is unconstitutional.
“They’re not the criminals. They had nothing to do with the crime, if in fact, a crime was committed. If you’ve not committed a crime and because you’re a witness, that does not allow you to be detained and be held against your will. That’s not the way the law works. You have the right to come and go as you please.
“Now if you’re suspected of committing a crime, it’s a whole different ballgame. If there’s probable cause, then police have the right to detain you.
“But here, they have the right to videotape. That is not a crime. They have an absolute Constitutional right to do that and they have an absolute Constitutional right to disseminate it, to publish it, to put it on Youtube, to put it on Facebook.”
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the body-mounted audio recordings and dash cam footage from the two CHP officers who were also at the scene, which will no doubt provide more evidence against the officers.