Within two hours after they had beaten a man to death, Kern County sheriff deputies realized their actions had been video recorded, so they tracked down the witnesses to an apartment and barged in, terrorizing them for hours until they handed over their cell phones.
It was 2 a.m. on a Wednesday and the deputies were not going to leave nor were they going to allow anybody else to leave until they had confiscated the cameras that had recorded them beating a 33-year-old father of four after he had been found sleeping on someone’s front lawn last May.
Earlier that night, a deputy had roused David Sal Silva by rubbing his knuckles against his chest, causing him to wake in a startled panic, according to a lawsuit filed by Silva’s common law wife, Tara Garlick, mother of his children.
But the deputy reported that Silva took a “rigid stance,” which made him fear for his life.
More deputies arrived and began beating him with their batons. California Highway Patrol officers also pulled up to the scene.
One deputy sicced his dog on him before they hog-tied him, leaving him on the ground until he stopped breathing before transporting him to the hospital, even though they were just across the street from the Kern County Medical Center.
In fact, a group of five people who did not know Silva were walking out of the hospital when they noticed the beating.
Two of them pulled out their phones to record. One called 911. That turned out to be a big mistake.
This is what Sulina Quair told the dispatcher:
“The guy was laying on the floor and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now. I got it all on video camera and I’m sending it to the news.”
And that call is what led the deputies to Melissa Quair’s apartment later that night where they “continued to harass, threaten, intimidate, pressure, unlawfully touch, and/or assault those present, according to another series of lawsuits filed by the five witnesses against the Kern County Sheriff’s Office last week.
One witness, Francisco Arrieta, refused to hand over his phone, but offered to allow them to download a copy of the disturbing video that captured Silva’s horrifying screams as they were piling on top of him in typical prison gang-rape style they are so fond of doing.
But the deputies would not settle for anything other than the phone and they would not let him out of their site until he had to go to work at 6 a.m., so he just handed it to him, not wanting to lose his job along with his phone.
It is not clear from the lawsuits if the deputies then left but it states they “showed up yet a second time unannounced” at 10 a.m. “banging on the bedroom windows,” demanding Maria Melendez’s footage, which they apparently didn’t demand earlier that morning.
Like Arrieta, Maria Melendez offered to provide them with a copy of the footage, but the deputies insisted on taking the phone, holding her against her will for two hours until they obtained a subpoena.
That video no longer exists, according to the sheriff’s office, who invited the FBI last year to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the clip, who then claimed they were unable to retrieve the footage.
The phones were returned and are apparently in the possession attorney Daniel Rodriguez, who is representing all the parties, including Silva’s common law wife, so maybe he has something up his sleeve (he is in trial for the next two weeks, so not taking any calls).
Although Arrieta’s video begins after they finished beating Silva when they appeared to be hog-tying him as he is crying out in pain, a grainy surveillance video with no audio shows the deputies swinging their batons multiple times as more law enforcement officers pull up.
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Silva was eventually transported to the Kern County Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m.
It was probably then that the deputies realized they had to retrieve the video mentioned in the 911 call before it ended up on the news.
Two weeks later, the Kern County Coroner’s office determined that Silva died of hypertensive heart disease and not baton blows from the deputies.
But then again, the coroner reports to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood so we can’t exactly expect an unbiased report.