Bakersfield Californian 2013/05/18: ROBERT PRICE: Has good-ol'-boy corruption seized the Kern Coun

Discussion in 'Media Coverage & Other Related Materials' started by M, May 19, 2013.

  1. M

    M Muckraker Staff Member

    Good editorial -- better just to skip my attempt to quote the highlights and go read the whole column.

    Bakersfield Californian (5/18/2013): ROBERT PRICE: Has good-ol'-boy corruption seized the Kern County Sheriff's Office?

    The Kern County Sheriff's Office is out of control. That's one conclusion many people will draw based on the events of the past two weeks and in the context of recent years. We won't know whether that's a fair characterization until we get some answers, but it should grieve us all that the possibility is even on the table.

    The current impetus for this, of course, is the death of David Sal Silva, a 33-year-old Bakersfield man who was rousted from his sleep on a patch of grass near Kern Medical Center at about midnight the night of May 7-8 and beaten or restrained by as many as nine baton-wielding officers, one with a dog, from the Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol. The investigation into Silva's death and our confidence in the KCSO's ethical fortitude were then compromised by the disappearance of video evidence from a witness's confiscated cellphone.

    ...

    Investigators' warrantless, barge-through-the-door seizure of two cellphones said to contain video of the beating raises questions about personnel's understanding of the Fourth Amendment as it applies to unreasonable search and seizure.

    ...

    If the witnesses are being truthful -- and they didn't accidentally erase the video themselves -- we have to ask if Sheriff's personnel really had the gall to knowingly destroy evidence that might incriminate deputies -- and with an increasingly cynical public watching, no less, wondering if they would dare do so.

    Given the possibility that someone in local law enforcement would willingly compromise an investigation in such a blatant and ham-handed fashion, is it fair to ask whether the coroner's office -- a division of the Sheriff's Office -- can be trusted to make an honest and impartial determination about cause of death, the victim's toxicity and other relevant circumstances?

    [Lacking evidence to the contrary, I would assume that autopsies are contracted to qualified medical personnel and that any tampering with the reports would quickly become known. Technically a questionable sheriff is awaiting an autopsy report from himself, but I rather doubt he's actually much involved in the process.]

    [Discusses a couple more fatal run-ins with Kern Co. deputies that we haven't covered in these forums yet -- Rudolfo Medrano and David Lee Turner. Stay tuned!]

    Then there are the nonfatal ethical lapses, too many to name here, from stealing cash from the wallets of drivers who've been pulled over, to allegedly subjecting a woman to a "deviant" strip search in her own home. Does the KCSO have a discipline problem? A training problem? Or is this a reflection of the candidate pool these days?

    When Youngblood first ran for sheriff, he had tremendous support within the department. Now it seems fair to ask if an undercurrent of good-ol'-boy corruption has taken root so deeply that he's helpless. The good, honest deputies who still represent the vast majority of the KCSO deserve better than this. So do the people they serve.

    [And so does David Sal Silva, R.I.P.]

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