Kern County deputies are accused of savagely beating a man to death while he begged for his life and then intimidating witnesses into giving up their cameras and phones in a coverup. The victim, David Sal Silva, was a 33-year-old father of four, and is alleged to have been publicly intoxicated in Bakersfield, CA, when Kern County deputies and California Highway Patrol officers began to beat him. After he was dead, the officers are said to have then systematically intimidated all witnesses into giving up their cameras and phones:
John Tello, a criminal law attorney, is representing two witnesses who took video footage and five other witnesses to the incident. He said his clients are still shaken by what they saw.
"When I arrived to the home of one of the witnesses that had video footage, she was with her family sitting down on the couch, surrounded by three deputies," Tello said.
Tello said the witness was not allowed to go anywhere with her phone and was being quarantined inside her home.
When Tello tried to talk to the witness in private and with the phone, one of the deputies stopped him and told him he couldn't take the phone anywhere because it was evidence to the investigation, the attorney said.
"This was not a crime scene where the evidence was going to be destroyed," Tello said. "These were concerned citizens who were basically doing a civic duty of preserving the evidence, not destroying it as they (sheriff deputies) tried to make it seem."
A search warrant wasn't presented to either of the witnesses until after Tello arrived, he said, adding that one phone was seized before the warrant was produced.
Tello said the phone of the first witness was taken after the deputies told him he was either going to give up the phone the easy way or the hard way.
"They basically told him they were either going to keep him at this house all night until they could find a judge to sign a search warrant or he could just turn over his phone," he said.