Lawsuits Filed in California Camera Confiscation Case Where Deputies Beat Man to Death

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.

David Silva and family
David Silva and family

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 partiesincluding 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.



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.

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About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • benanov

    The only solution to this “problem” of having your recording equipment seized is to get the footage/recording in as many places as possible as soon as possible, preferably at least one of them in another state or another country.

    • Dave

      there are apps now that let you save the video straight to the cloud or upload it to the web

      • rb

        Could you give some examples of those apps?

        • jimmarch

 is the best right now.

          • Leadfingers

            Bambuser isn’t free (and at $45 a month, isn’t practical). What are the best free options?

          • Film The Police Always

            It’s free for me. What Bambuser are you using? Another one I have is Fi-Vo. It uploads to my Dropbox account and it’s secure. The Fi-Vo cost me $1.99 What I like about Fi-Vo is when you tap the app to turn it on, it starts recording on it’s own without any tapping additional buttons.

            Just wanted to say, I’ve been reporting cops on a weekly basis now for sometime, and one that I’ve reported 2 times in 2 days is this super-cop that thinks he can roll down this one road that has a 45 mph limit @ 60-65 MPH. Well, I finally got to see him this morning and it appears that Internal Affairs took care of him. He was rolling along @ 48 mph. LOL Yea bitch – Slow the fuck down! Keep reporting them folks. Badges don’t grant extra rights.

          • JLA1125

            I love Dropbox. I recently took a vacation to the Caribbean. I had forgotten that I set up Dropbox to upload automatically. When I got back home I was surprised to see that Dropbox had uploaded EVERY video and photo that I took while on vacation.

          • jimmarch

            OH CRAP, didn’t know that had happened. I’ve been out of the game too damn long. Sorry.

            Probably the best bet is to use Dropbox to send video from a given directory your normal video app is sending to, off to Dropbox’s servers then. A bit tricky to set up but not too bad.

          • ARtP

            Bambuser is free!

          • Jeff

            Then why does their own website say it’s $45/month – $329/month for the standard account. They clearly stars it’s only free for 15 days. Care to elaborate why you say otherwise?

          • zebra

            You might be seeing the offer they have for a commercial account. Normal accounts are free.

          • Rick Myrtue

            I just downloaded Bambuser yesterday, for free. Works.

          • misty murphy

            cop block has a great free one

          • zebra

            Its free for me

          • Reddit_Guy

            It’s free. This picture might help.


        • Chuck Ritter

          I use Dropbox for Android. It came pre-installed on my Samsung phone, as well as on my wife’s Samsung phone. We were able to install it on her Asus tablet also, and get it to behave the same way. You may have to play with the settings a little, because it tries to spare your data expenses a bit (it defaults to only sending when you are on WiFi), but you can open it up wide and have it dump any video and pics you take immediately into your Dropbox account.

          It is free, along with the first chunk of storage. I currently have 50 GiB of storage with them for free, though don’t ask me how I got that much; I’m not quite sure.

          • catherinecc

            50gb comes with some (all?) samsung phones for like 3 years. You’ll get sent down to a smaller account after that time.

      • benanov

        None of them are free software – well, okay there’s the Openwatch recorder, but it crashes on CyanogenMod.

    • Kirkus1964

      I thought that it was always possible to retrieve video, even after deletion.

    • Kyara Peacock

      and upload it to social media immediately so it can go viral.

  • TheJeebus

    A system that is rotten to the core.

    • $910553

      There ARE NO “good cops” in this country. Well, that’s not quite right. Kentucky Officer Jason Ellis is a “good cop”. Windermere Officer Robert German is a “good cop”. Orange County Deputy Jonathan Pine is a “good cop”. May God soon convert MANY MORE of this country’s “Law Enforcement” into “good cops”.

  • FtP

    It’s always amazing how multiple cop’s batons touching a citizen can cause death from preexisting heart problems.

    • LibertyEbbs

      Also amazing is the strange phenomenon of video recordings of baton ‘touches’ mysteriously disappearing from devices while in the custody of LE. Just bizarre, that is.

  • Eric Wallace

    I haven’t had to use it, but I put the Ustream app on my android. It was free and send the video right to your account on their servers

  • Christopher Henry

    Dropbox is 100% free. I use it exclusively and have never had any issues. You start with a small amount of storage but everyone you invite adds to your storage limit. I got in at the beginning and now have 16g limit. You should turn it to upload anytime and not just WiFi but be aware that if you are roaming you will have some unexpected data charges. Same goes if you have a monthly data limit on your cell phone. Also ensure you have a password on your phone’s lock screen so they cant just go in and delete the files. Even if they take your phone it will still be loading or have loaded to the cloud for your retrieval. On another note it is also great for sharing larger files to friends & family.

  • JayBone

    This is yet more proof that police officers don’t confiscate video because they need it as forensic evidence, but rather that it may likely contain evidence of a crime committed by them and needs to be destroyed.

  • Just_Asking

    What, if any public records are available on this matter?
    911 calls, police radio logs, reports, emails, etc..

  • Tijuana Joe

    “Immediately thereafter, this sheriff’s deputy, along with five other
    sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant, proceeded to strike this man with
    batons several times all over his body, while the man screamed in pain
    and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. At about this same time, a
    K-9 dog belonging to one of the sheriff’s deputies attacked the man.”

    Good thing we have an Amendment ensuring Due Process. Who knows what might happen
    without it.

    • TheJeebus

      Were they yelling “STOP RESISTING” continuously while beating him?

  • Guest

    This is why I livestream. The footage is online the moment I press record so even if the phone is taken from me and smashed to bits, the video is safe because it’s NOT EVEN STORED ON THE DEVICE.

    People can even watch the stream, live and in real time.

    Imagine the cop’s face when you tell him this traffic stop is being watched, live, by hundreds of people!

  • Guest

    This is why I livestream. The video is online the moment you press record. My phone can be taken from me and smashed to bits and my video is already safely in the cloud.

    I use Bambuser. People can watch my video, live and in real time. I can even set an option to place a link to the stream on my Facebook feed when i hit record.

    Imagine the cop’s face when you tell him this traffic stop is being watched, live, by hundreds of people!

  • Shocked

    Google + does the upload for free.

  • $910553

    Let me know when you’ve had enough of playing THEIR games, and are ready to deal with them appropriately.

  • You’vebeenprotectedandserved

    They hit him so hard it knocked the plaque off the walls of his arteries!

  • zebra


  • sixhonestservingmen


    Public Servants, whether in the police or military, seem to be more and more emboldened to use innocent citizens as live target practice without consideration or care for serious repercusions for doing so, with or without photographic evidence of their wrong-doings.

    What are we to think of this worrying turn of events, where it would appear that acting public servants face no serious reprimands or serious crimminal action to discourage similar behaviour amongst their ranks, for what most right thinking people would consider unacceptable behaviour.

    Is there a way of understanding why this is happening ?

    Indeed there is, when we correct our perceptions to help us ‘see’ how it is public servants are able to justify their actions against what appear to be innocent people, or for that matter, why they don’t have to even justify those very same actions.

    At the same time, when we explore how relationships are formed, we will come to an understanding of why it can be seen or at the very least considered, that public servants represent occupying forces who fail to identify themselves as being from a foreign jurisdictional territory, and therefore are, acting unlawfully outside of that territory when they act against those elsewhere, when we read –


    DIAL 911 AND DIE

  • Gomer Pile

    Two hours later? And the police holding people hostage outside their doors? That’s when you send it to as many people as you can, upload it on every live feed, youtube, media outlet and hand your phones over…while you’re at it record the police yelling and banging and demanding their incriminating evidence.

    • $910553

      That’s when you start shooting every pig from that department that you can find.

      NOTHING will change for the better until enough dead pig corpses are stacked in the streets.

  • Lori

    why do all cops think they are above the Law?????

    • nobootlickinghere

      Because time, and time again, the courts affirm that they are, the media blows them as heroes who need community support, and the public fawns at the sight of a uniform. That’s why.

  • Lori

    is it that just cuz your a cop its ok for you to kill anyone you choose
    too for whatever reason and its ok I dont like cops and they make me
    sick Im more scared of the cops then I am the criminals! In my opinion
    all cops are assholes!

  • Lori

    because even if they know their fellow cop
    is guilty they still back them up!

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