The death of a Bakersfield, California, man last year while in police custody has been ruled an accident and the case has been closed.
David Silva died during an arrest on the evening of May 7, 2013. Silva’s family believes he died as a result of excessive force from the arresting officers, but authorities maintain that they followed protocol for the situation and did nothing wrong.
The family pressed for a federal investigation after the Kern County District Attorney’s Office originally determined that the officers involved were not responsible for the death of Silva.
“Kern County District Attorney’s Office personnel work with these agencies every day, and they’re the ones in charge of prosecuting cases for them. Apparently, the way it works in Kern County is that unless they catch the officers red-handed, nothing will happen. It appears that they look for ways not to prosecute,” the family’s attorney, David K. Cohn, said following the DA’s decision.
However, a federal investigation revealed the same findings.
“After carefully examining the evidence, both the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office determined there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a federal criminal prosecution, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the federal investigation of this matter has been closed,” the FBI said in a statement Monday.
Deputies used batons to subdue Silva during his arrest, and although he had bruises on his face, the autopsy showed he had not been struck on the head or neck.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the bruises on his face were likely caused that night as a result of Silva, who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, falling down.
“When you mix drugs with other drugs, it can cause erratic behavior and in this particular case, the deputies described someone who was under the influence of meth and other drugs and was extremely strong, was extremely large and it took this number of deputies to control him to keep him from hurting himself or hurting deputies,” Youngblood said, adding that he blamed the media for “creating hysteria” concerning the incident.