The partner of a California man is suing the Kern County sheriff’s department after a May incident in which she alleges sheriff’s deputies attacked him while he slept in someone’s front yard and beat him to death, without the victim having ever had an opportunity to demonstrate that he was a potential threat to their safety.
Tara Garlick and the victim’s four children, three of whom Garlick has since obtained through an application for Guardian ad Litem custody, are suing Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and eight other individuals, including deputies allegedly involved in the May 17 beating that led to the death of her partner, David Sal Silva.
Garlick alleges the deputies first “knuckle-rubbed” the sleeping Silva and then began beating him with batons as he awoke in a panic. He was then allegedly attacked by a police dog and hog tied, and eventually stopped breathing. Knowing this, the officers allegedly neglected to seek immediate medical attention. Silva eventually ended up at a hospital, but it was too late.
From the filing:
On May 17, 2013, a sheriff’s deputy reported to a scene where a man was asleep on a front lawn. Upon arrival the sheriff’s deputy proceeded to knuckle-rub the sleeping man, causing the man to wake up in a panic. Immediately thereafter, this sheriff’s deputy, along with five other sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant, proceeded to strike this man with batons several times all over his body, while the man screamed in pain and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. At about this same time, a K-9 dog belonging to one of the sheriff’s deputies attacked the man. Eventually, the officers hog-tied the man. After the repeated beating by the sheriff’s deputies and biting by a deputy’s K-9 dog, the man eventually stopped breathing. Nonetheless, the sheriff’s deputies failed to immediately transport the man to a hospital despite the man’s apparent inability to breathe. Finally, after a significant delay the man was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m. on May 8, 2013.
A witness told the local newspaper that her mother and another acquaintance each recorded portions of the incident using cellphone video cameras, but they were tracked down by detectives who allegedly barged into her sister’s home without a warrant, demanding — and obtaining — one of the phones. Their attempts to retrieve the other phone (the one used by the witness’ mother) were stalled when the woman refused to hand the device over without seeing a search warrant.
For a man to be asleep in someone’s front yard very likely suggests the possibility that he had compromised himself by taking substances legal or illegal, but that’s speculation. And even the biggest junkie in America doesn’t deserve to be attacked — let alone killed — by a gaggle of five deputies in the manner the lawsuit alleges.
Youngblood said later a pathologist had ruled Silva’s death an accident from “falling, hypertensive heart disease, and complications from being drunk and high on methamphetamines and other drugs.”
That certainly sounds like a lethal cocktail of illness, self-abuse and misfortune – one that doesn’t intuitively gibe with Youngblood’s assertion that Silva was menacing enough to require being hog tied and beaten.