BAKERSFIELD, CA- The attorney for the family of David Silva will file federal civil rights claims this week against local law enforcement.
This comes one month after Silva's death following a struggle with Sheriff's deputies and Highway Patrol officers outside Kern Medical Center.
Attorney David Cohn said he will file two claims in Fresno. It's the first step in filing a lawsuit.
He said the first claim is against the Kern County Sheriff's Department, the deputies involved with Silva's arrest and Sheriff Donny Youngblood. He said the second claim is against the state and the California Highway Patrol.
"Our lawsuit is going to, ultimately going to bring out the truth in this case," explained Cohn.
Cohn said he will also have his own experts look at tissue samples from Silva's body. "The tissue samples may provide clues as to why David Silva stopped breathing," he noted.
Silva died May 8th after a struggle with deputies and officers who took him into custody. Youngblood said Silva put up a fight and was hobbled when his heart stopped.
Cohn said the Sheriff's Department should do away with hobbling, a technique used to tie a suspect's ankles together.
"It's absolutely a violation of one's civil rights. Many police departments have totally done away with hobbling," said Cohn.
The Sheriff's Department policy on hobbling states, "Officers should never bind any person's hobble to the handcuffs except in the gravest of circumstances..."
The department hasn't said if Silva's feet and hands were tied together or if the Highway Patrol uses the same kind of hobble.
A pathologist said Silva died of sudden cardiac arrest due to chronic high blood pressure and heart disease.
A toxicology report indicates Silva had alcohol and drugs in his system when he died.
It's the Coroner's opinion that Silva's death was accidental.
"There are a number of baton strikes. He's being attacked by a canine. That didn't have anything to do with his death?" asked Cohn.
"That didn't accelerate his hypertension and cause his heart to stop beating? You can't take what happened out there in a vacuum and simply say he had hypertension and he died," he continued.
Youngblood would not comment on hobbling because of the pending litigation.
The Los Angeles Police Department also uses hobbling, but its policy says to never bind the suspect's hands and feet together.