BAKERSFIELD, CA - Sheriff Donny Youngblood spoke publicly Friday for the first time about a Bakersfield man who died in-custody at Kern Medical Center, following an eight minute struggle with deputies.
33-year-old David Silva's family has hired attorney David Cohn, who announced he will file a civil lawsuit in federal court against the Kern County Sheriff's Department.
One neighbor who didn't want to show her face on camera, described what she saw the night Silva died.
"We woke up to screaming for help. They were just beating him like with batons and he was just asking for help," she said.
"All I heard was help me please, help me. A few minutes later his screaming stopped," she continued.
The Sheriff's Department also released the 911 call from Wednesday morning. "I'm standing right here on the corner of Flower and Palm right now. And you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight Sheriff's," the woman can be heard saying on the tape.
"The guy was lying on the floor and eight Sheriff's ran up and started beating him up. The man is dead right here, right now. I got it all on video camera and I'm sending it to the news. These cops have no reason to do this to this man. The man was not doing nothing. I got it from when they first pulled up to the end," she continued.
A spokesman for the Sheriff's Department said Silva was combative and resisted arrest. He said deputies used batons and a dog to eventually subdue him. Eyewitnesses who videotaped the confrontation say deputies used excessive force, but the Sheriff's Department seized their cell phones.
"If the Sheriff's Department doesn't have anything to hide, why aren't we being shown these videos?" asked Cohn, during a news conference Friday.
"Why were they confiscated in a way that suggests a cover-up?" he continued.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood said it's not a cover-up. He said the videos are part of his department's internal investigation.
"Don't jump to conclusions. We need to look at what the Coroner's autopsy shows, cause of death. There's a lot of things we have to do to be fair to all sides. I'm not going to jump to conclusions until we complete the investigation," said Youngblood.
Youngblood said he has not seen the cell phone videos. "I want to see the investigation when it's complete," he explained. "I don't want to see piece meals of an investigation and do what some attorneys are doing and trying to slant the public before the investigation has even been done."
"We want to make sure those videos are not destroyed. We want to make sure those videos are not altered," noted Cohn.
"I've never been dishonest with this public and I'm not going to start now. I don't hide things. I don't change evidence," said Youngblood.
"The chips will fall where they may, and in this case, it will lead us to a conclusion and we'll get there if they just give us a little patience," he continued.
The Coroner says Silva's cause of death is pending toxicology and microscopic studies. The California Highway Patrol had two officers help arrest Silva. Their names have not yet been released.