BAKERSFIELD, CA - The FBI is now investigating the in-custody death of David Silva. Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Tuesday that one of the confiscated cell phones does not have video of the incident so he's called in the FBI to make sure the phone hasn't been tampered with.
Sheriff Youngblood said the FBI will conduct a parallel investigation which means they will partner with local enforcement. But, the Sheriff's Department will still have the lead on this investigation.
The Sheriff's Department said 33-year-old David Silva was combative with deputies in front of Kern Medical Center last Wednesday night. Witnesses said they took cell phone video of deputies using excessive force, but their cell phones were confiscated along with the video.
17 News spoke with the people who took the video. They say they watched separate videos on both cell phones. They say if the authorities say they can't find the video, they're lying.
"I started videotaping right away and Paco he started videotaping also and they were hurting him really, really bad," said Maria Melendez, who says she videotaped the confrontation, but the Sheriff's Department says there's no video on her cell phone.
"It clearly shows from the beginning to the end and you know a bunch of officers beating David Silva," said Melissa Quair, whose boyfriend took the second video.
The Sheriff says his deputies never saw video on the second phone. Because of these two different accounts, Sheriff Youngblood says he's called in the FBI.
"They will have access to everything that we have access to and at the end of the day we want to come to a conclusion so we can tell our public what transpired out there to the best of our knowledge," said Sheriff Youngblood. "If we did something wrong I'll tell you we did something wrong. If we didn't, I'll tell you we didn't."
The Silva family's attorney David Cohn, said he's "flabbergasted" Sheriff Youngblood says the video isn't on the phone, saying it "doesn't look good for the department."
"This totally under times the credibility of the Kern County Sheriff's Department and I would say to the sheriff at this point, with that one remaining video at least let the public see what's on that video," said Cohn.
Sheriff Youngblood said he plans to give back the cell phones to the owners as soon as the FBI is done with them which he hopes will be within a couple of days.
The sheriff says he is in the process of placing the deputies involved on paid administrative leave. He says leave is automatic for deputies who fire a weapon, but not for those who use a baton, as they did in this case. The sheriff says those deputies are being protected because their safety has been threatened.
The California High Patrol confirmed it has dash cam video of the incident, but said it handed it over to the Sheriff's Department.