ARTHUR: Our coverage of the death in custody of David Sal Silva has been read around the world and has drawn many comments. It's impossible to answer them all (and some don't need answers) but a couple of online remarks from our article last Sunday -- "Deputies' video confiscations come under scrutiny in fatal Bakersfield beating case" -- seemed worth noting.
READER: Kudos to both Steve (Mayer) and Jason (Kotowski) for such outstanding reporting. Thank you both for your excellent information. This is the best article I have read in a very long time.
This is the first article I've seen so far on this story with anything close to balance -- no one else has mentioned as far as I know that the officers first tried to get a police technician to download the videos onto a tablet before taking them in as evidence. The quotes from defense attorney (Kyle J.) Humphrey were also helpful in giving some perspective. There's a lot none of us know yet, and for the most part, what we do know has been sifted through the hands of the media.
I am doing my best to wait and hear more of the facts before forming an opinion; i.e., where were the blows to Mr. Silva's body? How many? How severe? Were there chemicals in his blood that could have caused him to be so difficult to restrain that it took that many officers?
No matter what the answers are, this is a tragedy. A family has lost a loved one; children will have to go on without a father that died way too young. People who need to heal will have their wounds ripped open over and over as they navigate the court system and the media circus.
My thanks to the authors as well for trying to show some balance. To the officers involved, know that some of us are waiting for the rest of the story before finalizing an opinion. To the Silva family, I am so very, very sorry for your tragic loss and am praying for your comfort, healing, and peace.
ARTHUR: Thanks for your comments. In each article on this, we try to repeat some basic information:
* The cause of death of David Sal Silva has yet to be determined. The results of the autopsy have not been determined, the coroner (who reports to the sheriff) says, and have not been revealed.
* Thus we don't know if Silva had alcohol or other substances in his system.
* It's not a "beating death." It's a "death in custody."
* Aside from "resisting arrest," according to the Sheriff, we don't know how Silva behaved when approached by officers.
* We know from the first and only surveillance video released that baton blows were struck. We don't know how many and for how long or where on his body they landed.
* According to the sheriff, Silva stopped breathing and was administered CPR.
* If there were two videos and one disappeared, we don't know how or when that happened.
The Californian has sought many pieces of information from these agencies. No answers have been forthcoming.
In public records requests, we asked for tapes of any other 911 calls and dispatch/radio communications related to the Silva incident. We also requested any audio or video recordings agencies may have of the incident.
A Kern County lawyer replied:
"Since this involves an investigation regarding an individual who died, it is a homicide investigation. Records gathered as part of the investigation are records of an investigation conducted by a local police agency. As such, they are exempt from disclosure under Government Code 6254(f).... As to the 911 tape, I do not believe there are any others. The one that was released was released, as I understand it, prior to my response being made to (your reporter) and without my knowledge."
The facts of the story are thus necessarily limited. The politics are not. Nor are the comments and the public reaction to what has happened. We of course will continue to cover those elements as well.
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