Lawyer: Witnesses will soon release video of controversial arrest

Lawyer: Witnesses will soon release video of controversial arrest »Play Video
Melissa Quair tells Eyewitness News on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, that she suspects a cover-up by the Kern County Sheriff's Office regarding video her family took of what they said was an overly forceful arrest of 33-year-old David Silva on May 7, 2013, in Bakersfield, Calif. Silva died just after midnight May 8.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Cellphones were returned Wednesday to witnesses who claim they took video of an excessively forceful arrest that ended with the suspect dying in custody.

John Tello, the attorney for the witnesses, said his clients will likely release the video for public viewing by Friday, if not sooner. The lawyer said he brought in a private investigator to examine the videos on the phone, and that he's only seen one small piece that doesn't show the reported beating.

David Silva, 33, died May 8 after a confrontation with Kern County deputies in northeast Bakersfield. The sheriff's office responded on a public-intoxication call, and Silva allegedly became aggressive and resisted deputies.

The sheriff's office said deputies used "baton strikes" to gain control of the situation. Silva started having breathing problems afterwards and died a short time later at nearby Kern Medical Center.

A family leaving KMC said they saw the incident and took video.

"There's a man laying on the floor, and your police officers beat the (expletive) out of him and killed him," one of the family members, Sulina Quair, said in a call to 911 that night. "I have it all on video camera."

Two family members, a man and woman, claimed they captured a beating on their cellphones. Sheriff's investigators went to their home the morning after the Silva arrest and seized the cellphones. The witness family claimed deputies were heavy-handed in their seizure, for which they had a warrant.

Tuesday, Sheriff Donny Youngblood said a police forensic analysis of the contents of the cellphones showed video on only one of the phones. The family told Eyewitness News late Tuesday that they suspect the sheriff's office of a cover-up and of doing something to the second video.

"I knew that this was going to happen," said Melissa Quair on Tuesday.

911 call from witness:



The sheriff's office also had the FBI conduct a forensic analysis of the cellphones, but the FBI hasn't said what it found.

The family of witnesses might have removed a memory card before handing the phones over to detectives, so, while they maintain they had videos on multiple phones, something might have been corrupted at that point.

Tello said he first saw the video after the sheriff's office returned the phones Wednesday morning. The initial segment of video he saw didn't show baton strikes, but he believes there are multiple video segments on at least one of the phones.

Tello said he brought in a private investigator to extract the information that exists on either phone, and they plan to release the video after that examination is complete.