Most here are already familar with the death of David Silva, beaten or effectively beaten to death - according to multiple witnesses - by some subset of seven Kern County deputies, two California highway patrol officers, and a police dog.

The story has finally hit the Los Angeles Times. Published at 3:45 today, it has been five days - last Wednesday - since the incident occurred and three days (Friday evening) since I first saw it come up.

the LA Times disturbingly reports that this incident ties in with others in Kern County. In particular, at least one deputy on the scene Wednesday was involved in a very similar incident back in 2010.

The Silva episode follows a number of brutality cases involving the Kern County Sheriffs’ Department in recent years. One led to criminal convictions of three deputies in the 2005 death of a jail inmate and another resulted in a $4.5-million court award for the family of a man who died in 2010 after being struck 33 times with batons and Tasered. A deputy named in civil lawsuit over the 2010 death was among those who confronted Silva...
There is so much that is wrong with what happened here and what is continuing to happen that it is hard to know where to begin.

The first and perhaps most horrifying question to me is "Why did they beat him to death? Why did they deal with him at all?" The man was unarmed. He could not possibly have posed a deadly threat that was not easily evaded by disengaging. In fact, he doesn't seem to have been posing any kind of threat to anyone except the deputy or deputies who were trying to subdue him. All they had to do was back away, wait for reinforcements, and then, if they still felt the need to subdue and arrest him, make a sensible plan to get it done. It wasn't like he was in much condition to go anywhere they couldn't follow, if eyewitness accounts are to be believed.

What prompted what seems to be a case of mass hysteria on the part of nine supposedly highly trained 'peace' officers?

Then we have the fact that the very organization whose members caused the death is investigating itself.

The question is why are these people on the street? Why are these nine officers still on the street? Why are they on active duty? And why is that okay?
First they intimidated the witnesses and confiscated the videos. Then the Sheriff, Donny Youngblood, complains that they aren't allowed to do an investigation.
"Whatever videos we have, I haven't even seen yet, but whatever we have that were seized presume to a search warrant, we'll make those available, but give us a time to do the investigation...

I'm not going to prejudge this, I hope the public has enough patience to give us time to conduct this investigation and I'll stand up in front of them and tell them the truth..."

Then the Sheriff, in apparent total naievete, highlights the fact that equality before the law is lacking.
Youngblood says cases involving deputies are treated just the same as if it was involving anyone in the public.
Can you imagine if nine random people found a drunk on the sidewalk and beat him to death, videoed by numerous witnesses. How long do you think it would be before they would be in a jail cell and arraigned on millions of dollars bail (or more likely the DA would demand none at all)?

A recent article by Shoshana Walter of the Center for Investigative Report illustrates the revolving door nature and ole boy network surrounding investigations of police misconduct.

After Oakland police Officer Miguel Masso shot and killed 18-year-old Alan Blueford last May, prosecutors quickly released their investigator's findings about the incident... The shooting was justified, according to the evidence collected by Michael Foster - a former Oakland police officer...

...legal ethicists say the use of former police officers creates an appearance of a conflict of interest that can erode public trust. And those ethicists say many ex-officers still have ties to their former departments, including a sense of allegiance to the "thin blue line" that can influence the subjective process of an investigation...

Alameda County prosecutors provided the Center for Investigative Reporting with records on Oakland police officer shootings since 2000 that were proved justified and closed. Out of 23 fatal shooting cases, 10 were investigated by former Oakland police officers, the records show.

And no, this isn't just an Oakland issue. No rational person believes any organization should investigate itself for its own misdoings.  No one who has noted the all-but-inevitable clearing of police in officer involved shooting cases by District Attorneys, case after case, year after year, can say with a straight face that this system makes sense.

Finally, there are the Constitutional issues. Cops routinely get away with flagrant violations of the Bill of Rights, and I can assure that this time will be no exception.

...it's the detention of two witnesses who shot cellphone video of officers' actions, and the confiscation of their phones by sheriff's deputies, that raises a whole new set of questions... Those questions -- sometimes angry, other times probing -- focus on the witnesses' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and their First Amendment right to publish the video they collected...

"The fact that local law enforcement officials think they can get away with this is scary as hell."

...officers have no right to enter your home without a search warrant, unless they are invited inside or unless they believe a crime is in progress. Even if you invite them in, you have the right to ask them to leave, and they must comply.

Tello ((a civil rights attorney representing the witnesses)) said it soon became clear the law enforcement officers were not welcome. But his clients were intimidated. The officers stayed...

This was not a crime scene. There was no sense that people were going to destroy evidence," Tello said. "These officers literally held them in that house for close to 10 hours against their will."

I suppose in a world where the Department of Justice (sic) taps into reporters' phone calls, everyone's email is an open book and cameras are and drones will soon be observing our every outdoors move, the violation of two witnesses' rights against unreasonable search and seizure doesn't amount to a hill of beans.


But taken together, all the abuses (so far revealed!) in this case are indicative of where we are going in our society. If those videos every find the light of day, perhaps that direction will change ever so slightly.

Tue May 14, 2013 at  7:16 AM PT: A newer article in the Bakersfield Californian provides more evidence of stonewalling and cover up.

The coroner's office, which reports to Sheriff Donny Youngblood, said Friday that the cause of death hasn't been determined and is pending toxicology and microscopic studies. Those studies could take as long as four months.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, and Police Accountability Group.

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