FBI investigates fatal beating of man by deputies; video evidence may have been destroyed

The FBI has launched an investigation into the beating death of a man by sheriff's deputies in Kern County, California. Two cellphones that contained video evidence at one point no longer contain the videos that show officers beating David Silva to death with batons on the head, "even after he was lying motionless on the ground." The deceased was 33, and a father of four. “Our credibility is at stake here,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood “I have seen the video. I cannot speculate whether they acted approriately or not just by looking at the video.” More: Los Angeles Times.


    1. I’m glad the people who recorded the Oscar Grant shooting in Oakland were able to high-tail it out of there quickly enough to get the video online and on TV.

    2. Take heed, citizens. Don’t tell the cops when you video them, or a judge will issue a warrant to seize them as evidence. Go straight to the media and internet, do not pass 911.

      1. What’s the best method? I see Wikileaks won’t take first hand reporting. What outlet is the best guarantee of duplication and distribution? It would be good to know ahead of time. 

          1. Yes, and start a torrent with a link under the YouTube video so others can re-post it when, as Michael says, YouTube gets itchy trigger finger.

            Also, as Sagodjur suggested, automatic upload services are great. I use them to upload the most recent 24 hours of footage from by bike camera in case someone hits me.

            There may also be some way to automatically forward the file to an email account someone else has the password to but you don’t. You can’t give the cops a password you don’t know. In fact, now that I’ve thought of it, I’m going to look into that myself this weekend. Thanks :)

        1. In the heat of the moment, on Android devices, you can use Dropbox or Google+ with automatic upload. That might be your best bet to upload your video as soon as possible depending on your connection to make sure that if the cops do take your phone that the video is already in the cloud. They might be able to delete it if they get into the phone with your account signed in, so if they just take the phone but don’t delete the video yet, you can likely just hop on a computer and download the video or post it somewhere else that they can’t access through the phone. Also change your passwords as soon as possible on all your cloud accounts that are signed in on your phone.

          The scenario that played out in this story was that the cops “detained” one of the videotapers for hours until a warrant arrived to confiscate the phone, and only because they refused to turn over the phone without a warrant. If they had automatic upload in place, the video could have been in the cloud by the time the cops got the warrant and this story would be even bigger because the news sites and channels would be playing the video all over the place.

  1. According to the article, the Kern County Sheriff requested the FBI investigation – good for him!

  2. Shouldn’t an autopsy determine if they acted appropriately within about 5 seconds? Either they brutally bludgeoned a man to death or they didn’t. I don’t care if he was resisting with all his might and the witnesses are all liars or mistaken, there’s no “appropriate” circumstances where beating a man to the point of death is okay. The only way this guy can keep his “credibility” is if they were genuinely trying to subdue a violently resisting man with reasonable force and he just happened to up and die for unrelated reasons, and I somehow doubt that’s the case.

    1.  So you seem to be saying if he was seriously trying to kill *them* they could not fight back?  There’s not a clear cut point at which you can say “Wow, if we hit him one more time he dies but even though he is still trying to kill us we must stop”.

      I do not know who is right or wrong in the real world but you live in a scary world if you think it’s not OK for the other person to fight back against someone trying to kill them.

      Or is this because it was the police and you don’t think they have a right to be alive but violent criminals do?

      1.  The story says he was already beaten and “motionless”.  I think your boys shot right past their “right to be alive” and straight into “killers” with this one.   

      2. Your entire reply is one big strawman argument. At no point in my post did I say police officers shouldn’t be able to defend themselves if they’re attacked, merely that they should use reasonable force to subdue someone who is violently resisting.

        I trust the witnesses who said that the man WASN’T resisting more than I do the cops, but even playing devil’s advocate and saying that he was resisting, why couldn’t they use a tazer? Or pepper spray? Or, considering there were seven of them at the scene according to the article, just overpower him without beating him to a pulp? Even assuming he was armed (which nobody has even suggested, so this is giving the police the maximum possible benefit of a doubt), they could have pointed a gun and told him to drop the weapon or they’d fire. These are all examples of reasonable force if he was indeed a violent criminal, as you seem to assume. There is absolutely no reason, even in the most extreme of circumstances, for this man to have ended up beaten to death.

      3. Right.  This guy was simultaneously beating two cops to death (just think about the logistics involved in that one) and the only way either of them could respond — despite being armed with pepper spray, mace, tear gas, stun guns, tazers, and/or conventional firearms — was to bludgeon the dude to death.  And then those very same police officers ordered all civilians recording the incident to turn over their phones and the videos ended up deleted — despite the fact that such videos could only vindicate these officers if this narrative is anything like correct.

        You’re right.  That seems much more plausible than the alternative: that the cops are lying as has been shown time and time again that cops do on official reports and in court let alone in response to a PR disaster.

        Do I need a sarcasm tag here?

      4. I don’t understand why a group of nurses can hold down a patient on drugs or who is mental, who IS trying to kill them, but a bunch of men who’s job it is to subdue people like this, can’t manage it on an unarmed man without beating him to death with tonfas (a weapon taken from medieval times that was used to kill people). 

        1. When I worked in the hospital, we had our own State Police force for the campus. On a couple of occasions, we had patients become destructively demented. The cops were very ready with their guns. Fortunately, the nurses swarmed the patients so the cops couldn’t shoot.

          Also fortunately, for many decades, every cop in the US had a mother, wife, sister or daughter who was a nurse, and they respond very well to women in white shoes barking orders at them.

          1. “Also fortunately, for many decades, every cop in the US had a mother, wife, sister or daughter who was a nurse, and they respond very well to women in white shoes barking orders at them.”

        2. I can attest to this. I was a nurse for ten years, mostly in locked psych facilities. Apparently our minimally staffed unit of often physically unimposing women could take care of large violent unmedicated men going through a psychotic break. We never resorted to violence on our part. That would be unprofessional, and you can lose your license. 

          I still don’t understand why police can’t do the same. I often cringe at their methods, because it’s like they designed them to create the most panic and confusion possible. 

          1. Police can do the same. Police does the same in many, many countries. Not nearly as good as professionals, as they have to cover quite a bit more territory, but better than this. 

            But you have to train them accordingly. There’s a reason why German policemen shoot less rounds in training than American policemen in the field.

  3. Wait, so the Sheriff says that he’s not sure if the officers “acted appropriately?” That he can’t tell just from the video evidence? That leads me to believe that there is a time when beating someone to death is “acting appropriately” for police officers? This may or may not have been one of those appropriate situations, can’t tell from the video, but that somewhere, there is a time and a place for men with clubs to pound away on another man who is helpless and not moving. That’s a pretty sobering thought. 

      1. No.

        If the misdeed and video of misdeed are as apparent as the witnesses describe it being then what the Sheriff is doing is muddying the waters defensively.

        Let me translate for you,

        “Our credibility is at stake here.”

        = “I am now credible, hear what I say next.”

        “I have seen the video. I cannot speculate whether they acted approriately or not just by looking at the video.”

        = “The video showed nothing.”

    1. The FBI is mandated to investigate things like this, especially when the department/agency may have a reason to change facts and/or destory evidence.

  4. “I have seen the video. I cannot speculate whether they acted approriately or not just by looking at the video.”
    So there is a time when it is appropriate to beat somebody to death?

  5. Even if the 2 cellphones memory cards have been erased, it might be possible to UNDELETE  if they where not securely erased by overwriting the memory card several times.  How about we add a couple of obstruction of justice charges to police brutality.  Even if the video is gone there are still witnesses.

    1. Shhhhhh!!!!!
      More seriously, video is hellaciously difficult to reconstruct from fragments, though there might be a chance if it was stored as an mpeg.

    2. Just an innocent case of a police forensics technician mixing up the station’s memory card reader with a microwave. Happens all the time.

    1. I have three reasons for having my phone instantly upload anything to a private server.  One is in case I lose my phone.  One is in case I need space.  The third is so I can hand it over to any cop with a warrant who asks without feeling too bad about it.

  6. I’m VERY familiar with Kern county law enforcement.  It’s too late to rescue their “credibility”.

  7. Pigs will always be nothing but WORTHLESS PIGS! Cops are out of control in America. Enough is enough as its time to give all these pigs what they give to the public. They are all nothing but wussys with out a gun and their fellow back up thugs. Fùck all pigs!

  8. I’m starting to think “Police erasure of a recording device” needs to be a felony

    1. And the punishment should be comparable (if not worse) than whatever crime they are thought to be covering up. If they can get a few weeks administrative leave for “losing” evidence instead of facing homicide charges, what cop wouldn’t try this?

    2. What you describe in quotes above is pretty much the definition of obstruction of justice.  Which can be a felony.   A case like this is a good example where that could happen because the FBI is now involved.  

      Either the sheriff is damned confident that his deputies did no wrong, or he’s incredibly stupid.

      1. “Either the sheriff is damned confident that his deputies did no wrong, or he’s incredibly stupid.”

        Or maybe he has a shred of integrity, or maybe he knows when to fold ’em.

        1. Opposite sides of the same coins, no?

          Reality, though, says hubris.  Review the recent history of this particular sheriff’s office.

  9. IANAL, but I would think the *video* is the ‘evidence’, and not the device/phone itself, right? I mean, when they use security footage as evidence, they don’t confiscate the whole security camera system.  Couldn’t you reasonably just say “I’ll go home at put that right on a thumb drive for you and walk it right into the precinct personally”.  They still do ostensibly need warrants to just take your stuff, yeah? 4th Amendment and all that?  (Although I’m sure that’s harder to pull off if you don’t have a lawyer on hand and thug cops are holding you hostage until you hand them your property.)

    1. The only correct response to interrogation by law enforcement is to lawyer up. Unless you’re an uncover cop or spy, in which case you have bigger problems.

      1.  The original post has a quote from the person in question’s lawyer, who turned up to find her already surrounded by cops in her home.

        1. Eh? I re-read both articles twice and I can’t find that. But if they had a warrant, there was probably little a lawyer could’ve done anyway. Still, never talk to the police without counsel present.

  10. Isn’t forcibly gathering (and probably destroying) cell phone videos an admission of guilt? At the very least, when officers do this shouldn’t we be presuming that they knew they did something wrong and be requiring them to prove that they were justified rather than presuming that they’re innocent?

    1. Isn’t forcibly gathering (and probably destroying) cell phone videos an admission of guilt?

      “What cell phone videos?”

    2.  IANAL, but I did read several internet articles about the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. 8-)
      Presumption of innocence is a long-standing component of our legal system (and many others throughout the world) and we can’t afford the luxury of deciding to selectively apply it to cases, even with blatant abuses like this. We can and should prosecute them to the hilt for destroying evidence. I really hope at least that happens.

    1. Recovery of remnant data from magnetic hard drives relies on the influence the fields of each domain have on their neighbors on the platter, and the fact the simply deleting a file only deletes the pointers in the file index, not the actual data to which they point. The first is inapplicable to cell-phones, because they use flash memory that works on different principles. But as long as they didn’t use a proper data erasure algorithm that actually overwrites the data (like combing your hair), the latter should mean the data can be recovered. It’s especially helpful that little or no data was probably written to the phone after the files were deleted, because that minimizes the amount of probable overwrite.

      But video files are among the most finicky to recover, because you need the intact data stream to make sense of it. A skilled forensics specialist can probably recover the videos and interpolate holes in the data at least well enough to get the video to play. Whether there is enough left of the original data to make a compelling court exhibit is a harder question.

      For now we have to hope the cops were too technically illiterate to cover their tracks, and that whoever did it broke into an evidence locker to save their own ass, rather than a forensics colleague, who would probably know what they were doing, doing them a favor.

    2. If the cops were smart they deleted it and then filled the memory again with a long-ass video of the inside of someone’s pocket. But they probably weren’t smart so maybe.

    3. Maybe.

      Data from hard drives can generally be recovered if the data hasn’t been overwritten by something else.  As time passes, deleted data is more and more likely to have been overwritten by continuing use of the computer.  Alternately, if someone used a secure deletion tool that overwrites file data before deletion, it’s much less likely to be recoverable.

      Questions that are relevant – did the cops know about the above?  Did the phones have flash cards (more easily accessible to secure deletion utilities on a PC), or just internal storage (a la iPhone or Galaxy Nexus)?  If they had flash cards, did they try to wipe data from them, or just grind them to powder?

  11. Yup.  Cops getting away with yet another murder / execution.

    Can someone now please explain to me the difference between law enforcement agencies and any other criminal organization?

    1. Well, Los Zetas are the criminal organization that is also the de facto peace-keeping force in northern Mexico.  Their usual response to opposition is beheading.

      As far as I know US cops tend to use their power of arrest in lieu of beheading people.  So there’s that.

      I’m not exactly pro-cop but exaggerating bad behavior by cops doesn’t really help anti-authoritarian arguments. Besides, there isn’t much need to exaggerate when they do shit like this.

      1. Also, if you fuck up bad in law enforcement, you get suspended with pay instead of possibly executed.

        Sometimes, and really perversely, it feels like there’s more accountability in organized crime.

    2. ” the difference between law enforcement agencies and any other criminal organization?”

      Culpability. And snappy uniforms.

  12. Comments and questions from a Bakersfield resident:

    Sheriff Youngblood seems to be a very decent man. But chiefs don’t throw their officers under the bus just because they look guilty (which they really, really do). He did immediately call the FBI. This is good.

    As soon as I heard this story I started looking for streaming video uploaders for Android, without immediate luck. Someone above mentioned doing this. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

    And how about audio recording — same question?

    1. For most uses I just let Android upload it to my Google+ account.  Happens automatically when I’m in range of a wireless signal but I can use the 4G network if I need to.  I’ve made it entirely private so the default is that it uploads and only I can get to it.  Dropbox also has the same capability.  But this is designed to give me time to get back home and doanload it before a warrant canbe passed to Google/Dropbox.  Again, I’m also not giving up my 4th Amendment rights (phone) without a warrant.

      But check the options posted by simonbarsinister as well, also good options.

      1.  Wow! I’d forgotten that I’m already linked to Dropbox. I switched the setting to “wifi and 4G” (I still have unlimited, at least for now, and I don’t take that many pictures.)


    2. I’m currently installing Vilnyx on my iPhone, which seems like it may be a good app for instantly uploading video as you shoot.

      I used to be a law enforcement supporter, but not so much these days.

  13.  Use ‘Qik’ or ‘UStream’ to get the video backed up in the cloud immediately before the cops have an accident all over your phone. Then stick it on YouTube. Let 4Chan know the police want it deleted and it will be copied everywhere.

    1. Customer Reviews of Qik:




      This app says its free but I got a bill??? Wth give me my money back !!!




      I’m confused cuz I thought it was Free but I just got a bill on my
      phone??? What that is stupid!!! I’m not paying money for the app!!!
      Really I mean come on!!!!

      Bait and switch



      I paid for this app once. Then they changed their business model and
      started charging per month. Total BS. I will never use this again.   

  14. Vilnyx didn’t really seem to work for me, but Video Up (iPhone, not sure about Android) works well. It uploads to Dropbox as soon as you finish recording. Of course that doesn’t help if the goon snatches the phone from your hand, but if he/she/it is a little dumb, hitting the “stop” button will send the video off.

  15. ““I have seen the video. I cannot speculate whether they acted approriately or not just by looking at the video.””

    How can he have seen the magically deleted videos?
    Oooh and now as a police officer he can testify what he “saw” on the video cause it’s just the same as seeing it yourself.

    When any officer tells you don’t let bad cop stories make you judge all cops, remind them that when the ‘good’ cops stay silent about the bad cops… they become bad cops too.

    “Our credibility is at stake here,”
    You flushed it when you took the phones.
    You removed any shred of it when evidence mysteriously turned up blank.
    And the final straw was well I’m not sure if they did anything wrong after seeing a video where an unmoving man was on the ground and they kept beating him.

  16. Vasquez said her girlfriend yelled, “ ‘Somebody call the cops,’ and everybody looked at her and said, ‘They ARE the cops.’ ”


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