A 33-year-old California man and father of four died after sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers responded to reports of a possibly intoxicated man outside a Bakersfield medical center last week. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office says David Sal Silva initially resisted arrest. More law enforcement officers eventually arrived and they began beating him with batons, according to Digital Journal.
Witness Ruben Ceballos, 19, says he saw two officers beating the victim with batons. “They were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head.” Ceballos added that he could hear Silva screaming for help, but says those cries didn’t stop officers from continuing to beat the man.
Another witness, who said his first name was John, said Silva “wasn’t resisting arrest, he was begging for his life.”
A number of people are said to have caught the incident on cellphone cameras. Those phones, however, were seized by deputies before an arrest warrant was served, a defense attorney says.
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.
News outlet Bakersfield Now has released an uncut 911 tape from the incident in which a woman tells the dispatcher, “There’s a man laying on the floor, and your police officers beat the (expletive) out of him and killed him.” The woman then tells the dispatcher she caught the whole thing on video.
You can listen to the 911 call below:
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.