Man begged for his life as Kern Co deputies bea...
Bakersfield - A California man begged for his life as a pack of Kern County sheriff's deputies beat him to death before seizing the cell phones of witnesses who recorded the incident on video.
The Bakersfield Californian reports that 33-year-old David Sal Silva, a father of four young children, died early Wednesday after deputies responded to a call about a possibly intoxicated man outside Kern Medical Center (KMC) in Bakersfield.
According to the Kern County Sheriffs Office, Silva resisted deputies, a canine unit was deployed and when more deputies arrived, they beat him with batons. He then had difficulty breathing and was taken to KMC, where he died.
Officers from the California Highway Patrol were also reportedly involved in the incident.
As many as nine total police officers took part in the beating.
Witnesses, some of whom recorded the fatal beating with their cell phone cameras, told a different story. Ruben Ceballos, 19, was sleeping in his home when he was awakened shortly after midnight by screams and commotion outside.
"When I got outside, I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head," he told the Californian. Ceballos said that although Silva was on the ground screaming for help, the officers kept beating him. After several minutes, Silva stopped screaming.
"His body was just lying on the street and before the ambulance arrived one of the officers performed CPR on him and another one used a flashlight on his eyes but I'm sure he was already dead," Ceballos told the Californian.
"He wasn't resisting arrest, he was begging for his life," a witness who gave only his first name, John, told Bakersfield Now.
"They (deputies) jumped out, reached for their bats, and beat that man until they killed him right in front of my face," witness Jason Land told Bakersfield Now. Land said the deputies behaved like "animals."
Land then called local media to report what he'd seen. He said he felt like he was being followed by deputies and became so paranoid that a friend drove him to the hospital. While there, he was arrested for being under the influence of the drug PCP. But Land insists he was not high and that he was arrested for reporting the deadly police beating.
"If I wouldn't have said nothing, I wouldn't have been in cuffs," Land told Bakersfield Now. "But since I said something, I'm in cuffs." Land said he is now "in hiding" out of fear of police retaliation.
Deputies seized other witnesses' cell phones following the fatal beating.
"The true evidence is in those phones witnesses have that apparently the sheriff's deputies already took," brother Christopher Silva told the Californian. "But I know the truth will come out and my brother's voice will be heard."
Criminal defense attorney John Tello, who is representing two of the witnesses who recorded the brutal beating, told the Californian that his clients are "shaken" by what they saw and how they were treated by police.
"When I arrived to the home of one of the witnesses that had video footage, she was with her family sitting down on the couch, surrounded by three deputies," Tello said, claiming that the witness was not allowed access to her cell phone and was prevented from leaving her home. Tello claims he was not permitted to speak privately with the woman with the phone and that he was informed that the recording of the deadly attack was evidence to the investigation.
"This was not a crime scene where evidence was going to be destroyed," Tello told the Californian. "These were concerned citizens who were basically doing a civic duty by preserving the evidence, not destroying it, as they (deputies) tried to make it seem."
Tello also claims that the witnesses' phones were seized before any warrants were served. He also claims deputies threatened one witness, telling him he could either surrender his phone the easy way or the hard way.
Silva leaves behind a girlfriend and four children, ages 2 to 10.
"How am I going to tell the kids... the father that they love is now dead?"
Salvador Silva, David's father, asked Bakersfield Now.
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Father Dies After Begging for His Life While Co...
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5/13/13 - A California father of four died after being beaten by police outside of a Bakersfield hospital, while witnesses say he begged for his life. A couple witnesses filmed the gruesome scene, but say they were later forced to give their cellphones to authorities and have yet to receive their devices back. The Bakersfield Californian reported 33-year-old David Sal Silva died early Wednesday morning in the hospital after he was struck an unknown amount of times by nine authorities seeking to subdue him. Silva was considered possibly intoxicated and an autopsy is expected to reveal if he was killed by injuries sustained in the beating or other complications.
Police and county sheriffs were responding to a call regarding a possibly intoxicated man outside Kern Medical Center Tuesday night and say Silva resisted them.
The 911 call of witness Sulina Quair records her telling the operator that she witnessed the officers "beating him up with sticks." In the call, Quair says she taped the entire ordeal and that she planned on "sending it to the news."
"These cops have no reason to do this to this man," Quair said, witnessing the incident as she was leaving the hospital after visiting a relative. A nearby security camera, according to KERO-TV, picked up grainy footage of the incident showing Silva lying on the ground while someone appears to walk up to him, tries to pick him up and then hits him with a baton. Silva's brother, Christopher, said he has spoken with other witnesses and he believes his brother "spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life."
Witness Ruben Ceballos ran outside when he heard commotion around midnight, the Bakersfield Californian reported.
"When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head," Ceballos said, noting that he could hear Silva screaming for help.
A few days after the gruesome event, Quair said the scene still haunts her.
"I sit there and I can still hear him choking in his own blood, trying to gasp for air," she said Friday.Quair also, at the operator's request, gave gave her phone number in case more information was needed.
Soon thereafter though that Quair said authorities seized the phones of her mother, Maria Melendez, and boyfriend, whose name was not released, which were used to take video of the events. Here's more regarding the seizure of the phones from the Bakersfield Californian:
"We had stopped by Taco Bell to get something to eat, and we were eating and at about 3 a.m. two detectives showed up, barged in without my permission and demanded to see my boyfriend for his phone," Melissa said.
She said she and her boyfriend were essentially kept captive inside their own home until they released their phones.
As was reported earlier, the boyfriend eventually gave up his phone without a search warrant being presented because he had to be at work at 8 a.m. and didn't want to be late, she said.
"They lied to us and said that they would personally deliver the phone back to us the next day but when we called they said they were keeping the phone until the investigation was over," she said.
Later in the morning, Melendez showed up at Melissa's house and was immediately confronted by the same two detectives who told her she had to turn over her phone, she said.
Melendez said she wasn't going to give up her phone without a search warrant and was then again told that the search warrant was on its way.
In the report, the sheriff's office states it is currently unable to release the phones because they were taken with a warrant. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said after a judge orders the release of the phones, they plan to "share everything with the public, including the videos."
Still, a debate regarding how the phones were taken has been fuming since. There is a growing debate about "citizen journalists" that stretches well beyond this incident. TheBlaze has recently reported about knowing one's rights while filming law enforcement performing public duties — and also how to recover deleted pictures and video that might not be lost forever.
Attorney John Tello is representing the two witnesses whose phones were confiscated and told the Bakersfield Californian in a separate article Saturday that his clients were intimidated into giving up their phones.