David Sal Silva, a 33-year-old father of four small children between the ages of 2 and 10, was beaten to death by as many as nine police officers in Bakersville, California, early Wednesday morning. Police say Silva was intoxicated and fighting officers. But this was contradicted by several eyewitnesses.
Grainy security camera footage obtained by 23ABC from a person who was “afraid of a cover-up by deputies and wanted ‘the truth to come out’”, appears to corroborate witness accounts, showing several men striking a man laying on the ground with objects over a dozen times.
The release of a 911 call from a woman who witnessed the beating (listen here) doesn’t bode well for the officers either. The woman can be heard telling the dispatcher:
“There’s a man laying on the floor and your police officers beat the shit out of him and killed him. I have it all on video camera.I am sitting here on the corner of Flower and Palm right now and you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight Sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight Sheriff’s ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now.”
Despite the hazy security footage and 911 call, police are sticking to their story. So, someone is lying. But who? Fortunately, at least two witnesses captured the beating on their cell phones. However, the devices were immediately seized by police, which is illegal in California.
Cops vs. Witnesses
Kern County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ray Pruitt says that a deputy with a canine was responding to a call from Kern Medical Facility late Tuesday night about an intoxicated man outside when he spotted and approached Silva at a nearby intersection. Pruitt claims that Silva put up a fight when the deputy attempted to take him into custody, at which point more deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers showed up to help. Silva then had trouble breathing. He was taken to Kern Medical Center and died less than an hour later.
But Witnesses tell a very different story.
Just minutes before Silva’s encounter with police, a woman, who asked not to be identified, told ABC23 that she saw Silva lying on the sidewalk seemingly unconscious. ”I seen the guy laying there. I thought something was wrong with him. Then when I saw him moving… I saw his chest moving up and down…I knew that he was just drunk and eventually he’ll wake up,” the woman said.
It’s hard to imagine that Silva was able to muster the strength to fight off several police officers just minutes after he was purportedly incapacitated.
Ruben Ceballos, 19, told The Bakersfield Californian he was at his home and in bed when he awoke around midnight to screams and loud bangs, which he soon recognized as the sound of police batons smashing into Silva’s skull. ”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. The beating continued for several minutes despite the desperate cries for help. Then Silva went silent and became unresponsive, Ceballos said.
“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.”
The Sheriff’s office told the Californian that they will not comment on the case until their investigation into the matter is complete.