911 caller accuses officers of beating Bakersfield man to death

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CNN) — The 911 call is accusatory. The woman flatly tells the dispatcher she just witnessed several police officers in East Bakersfield, California, beat a man to death.

emergency phone 911 callsThe woman — identified by the local newspaper as Salina Quair, 34 — happened upon the scene as she left Kern Medical Center, where the father of four would later die.

“There’s a man laying on the floor, and your police officers beat the sh*t out of him and killed him,” said Quair, according to a tape of the 911 call obtained by CNN affiliate KERO-TV.

“I’m right 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 sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now,” she continues.

The sheriff’s office has named the seven deputies involved in the incident, including a sergeant, while the California Highway Patrol has yet to name its two officers who responded to the scene.

The area is largely residential, packed with one-story homes and small apartment complexes. In addition to the hospital, East Bakersfield High School and the county coroner’s office are within two blocks of the intersection where David Sal Silva died.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has said it will not comment until the investigation is complete, but a news release says the incident began May 7 just before midnight.

A deputy responded to a call that a man, later identified as Silva, 33, was lying on the ground, possibly intoxicated.

Silva was “uncooperative,” according to the sheriff’s office, even after a canine was deployed.

“The suspect continued to actively resist the deputy and the K-9. Additional deputies arrived on scene, along with two CHP officers who responded to assist. The suspect continued to resist and received baton strikes from the deputies attempting to take him into custody,” according to the sheriff’s news release.

After Silva was restrained, police requested medical assistance for his injuries, the release said. He was having trouble breathing and was taken across the street to the hospital.

“While being treated at KMC, the suspect was pronounced dead at about 12:44 a.m.,” the news release said.

Several witnesses have painted a more brutal picture, saying that Silva was crying for help and officers continued to beat him until he fell silent. Others have said they captured the incident on their cell phones. Two of those witnesses hired attorneys after police confiscated their phones, KERO reported.

The only video released thus far is from a security camera, and the quality is poor. It appears to show two men scuffling for about two minutes before another man arrives. The two men appear to repeatedly hit the third man as he’s on his knees and later lying on the ground.

Police cars arrive and officers gather around the man on the ground, but their actions aren’t clear. The video is grainy, and the blur of light and shadows makes it difficult to determine what is happening.

Witnesses told CNN they were awakened by the incident. One witness, who asked not to be identified, described a chaotic scene.

“He was asking for help. He was screaming with pain. He only got to ask for help like three times,” he said. “Those hits were brutal.”

Sheriff Donnie Youngblood promised a fair investigation into the incident.

“I’m waiting till this investigation is done so I can look at it objectively and decide whether we did something wrong, and If we did, I’ll stand up and tell you that we did. If we didn’t, I’ll stand up and tell you that we didn’t,” he told KERO.

In November, the family of Jose Lucero, 33, won a $4.5 million civil judgment against the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, according to The Bakersfield Californian. After the mentally ill Lucero had made delusional 911 calls, four deputies beat, pepper-sprayed and Tasered him, killing him in front of his parents, according to the newspaper’s report about the 2010 incident.


  • IBcatwoman

    Why would the police confiscate people's cell phones if they had nothing to hide? A full investigation needs to happen here.

  • wendy

    I agree exactly why confiscate innocent peoples cell phones if you are so innocent. The police department obviously quite a few around California need to be investigated. They are hired to UPHOLD the law to SERVE AND PROTECT I believe your b.s. motto is? Yea you were not hired to serve as judge jury and executioner. They are not above the law and if we insist on allowing this behavior of law enforcement officials our society will only get worse. Sounds like either they have control issues or simply not cut out to be police officers what ever happened to the qualities it is supposed to take for an individual to even become a police officer one of them being (as stated by the Berkeley police dept.) Emotional maturity to remain calm and objective and provide leadership in emotionally charged situations? I would rather have responsible adults serving and protecting as opposed to these cowards (because that's what it is to beat a person when they are down screaming for help) These so called law enforcement and all their counterparts whom choose to act this way are no better than the criminals they are sworn to protect us from.

  • Fred

    Sheriffs are just want to be police officers who could not make it through training.

    Out in the middle of nowhere they just got caught this time and are trying to cover it up.

  • Ida

    Take away the badges and this reminds me of Gang members beating up on an unarmed person. How disgusting!

  • Rob

    THey are deleteing the video…anyone that thinks otherwise is a moron…SHOW US THE FOOTAGE ON THE PHONES..

  • RedIrish50

    It happens often in Bakersfield. Death is not always the result, but the beatings happen The Sheriff's Dept has a uncanny knack for covering up and intimidating witness's. The District Attorney is another avenue of cover up. If law enforcement kid's are involved, it is usually dismissed. The case of the Cal State Wrestlers that beat that poor drunk kid to death. They all got off, why? Why do you think? JULY 21, 2009 – A 27-year-old man is brain dead after he was involved in a fight outside a fast-food restaurant, authorities said. Witnesses said the brawl involved several members of the Cal State Bakersfield wrestling team. Josh Robertson of Bakersfield was in a Del Taco parking on Rosedale Highway about 2 a.m. when he came to the aid of a woman who was being harassed by several men, family members said. At least three of them assaulted Robertson, leaving him with severe head injuries. Findings will be forwarded to the Kern County District Attorney, who will determine if charges should be filed. CSU Bakersfield officials said that the involved wrestlers will be allowed to remain on the team as long as charges have not been filed. 1 is a Cop's kid , 1 is the brother to the Assistant Coach. It's another case that need's to be reopened and investigated.

  • antonio

    the fucker morders natzis should be put in prison for life, but abit that the corruted judge is goin to let them
    go free.

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