11/22/2014

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In-custody death families call for change

In-custody death families call for change

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Family and friends of men who died while in the custody of local law enforcement gathered Saturday to voice their concerns with a demonstration at the corner of California Avenue and Stockdale Highway.

While coroner's investigators ruled all the fatalities represented accidental, family and friends say "no way" and want someone held accountable.

Ronnie Ledesma's family said change is needed. Ledesma died in August after being subdued by deputies in a Walgreen's parking lot in east Bakersfield.

A sheriff's spokesperson said drugs were found in his system. Ledesma's death was ruled accidental.

"On behalf of all the families, please teach local law enforcement how to handle people in that situation. Detain without killing," said Ledesma's son-in-law, Joseph Gomez.

The family of David Silva was also on hand asking for justice.

Silva died nine months ago after being taken into custody near Kern Medical Center by seven deputies, two California Highway Patrol officers and a K-9. An autopsy revealed that Silva had drugs in his system and coroner's investigators found that heart disease played a role in his death.

Silva's brother, Chris, said he wants those responsible to be held accountable. "We want those people we saw on video to be held accountable. The ones holding the baton, double-clutching, to be held accountable, that's it," the brother said.

Jorge Ramirez Jr.'s family said he was shot and killed by Bakersfield police Sept. 16 while working as a police informant.

"We're seeking for outside, independent investigators," said his father, Jorge Ramirez Sr.

He noted such investigators could be used in many cases, where bias or conflict of interest could be a concern.

All the families have lawsuits pending against local law enforcement. Each noted they respect the law and local law enforcement, but they said these deaths must end.

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