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Kern County beating: Woman gave video to dead man's family

FBI

BAKERSFIELD — The woman was determined to get the security video of a sheriff's deputy beating a man to the victim's family — and no one else.

"I heard the cops were going around taking people's phones. I thought, 'Oh my God, oh my God. How do I get it to the family before the cops come searching my house and destroy it?'" said the 31-year-old mother of four, who asked not to be identified because she fears backlash from authorities.

She was the only one who knew her security video of the May 8 beating existed.

She and her husband and children had slept through the screams and sirens when David Sal Silva was beaten by Kern County sheriff's deputies. He died less than an hour later.

Deputies had responded to a report of an intoxicated man. In addition to the deputies and a Sheriff's Office  sergeant, two California Highway Patrol officers were involved in the incident.

"We're right by the hospital. We're used to ambulances," the woman said. "But the next morning my neighbor said 'Hey girl, do you know police killed somebody right on that corner last night?' "

The woman's husband checked the video from their camera, which is trained on the location where the incident occurred. He didn't find anything. But later, the woman pulled out an instruction manual for her DVR and tried again.

"There it was," she said.

"I just thought "Nuh-uh. I know what it's like to lose family, I wanted the family to have evidence,"  she said.

She didn't even tell her husband about the video. She waited.

Two days later, a man came to leave flowers at the corner where David Silva died. She recognized him from a news account as Silva's brother.

Being careful not to be recorded by her own cameras, she wound her way to Chris Silva and told him, "I'm the girl with the video. I'll give it to you to do what you want with it."

On Saturday, he came to her house to watch it.

"He was shaking his head. He didn't say anything," she said. "I told him I was so sorry and I hoped the tape would help people see what really, really happened." 

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Tuesday that he has asked the FBI to conduct a "parallel investigation" into the events of the night and help analyze two cellphones that were seized during a search.

"I took the unprecedented step of asking the FBI to conduct a parallel investigation," Youngblood told The Times. "Our credibility is at stake here."

Youngblood said he has also placed the officers on paid administrative leave, a decision made in the last 48 hours, based on information they had received. He said he wanted to ensure the safety of the officers on the street.

The Sheriff's Office has been criticized for potentially trying to cover up the incident by detaining witnesses for hours and seizing their cellphones.

Youngblood said only one video was obtained from two cellphones, which prompted his request for additional FBI assistance.

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Kelly Thomas' father 'totally disgusted' by Kern County beating 

Twitter: @deedmarcum

diana.marcum@latimes.com

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