Police, FBI now part of in-custody death investigation

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Outside agencies are getting involved in the Kern County Sheriff's Office in-custody death investigation. The sheriff's office on Tuesday also said only one of two cellphones seized from witnesses contain video of the incident.

Uncut video: Kern County sheriff gives press conference {>}{>}

David Silva, 33, died last week after a confrontation with deputies in northeast Bakersfield. They reportedly tried to take Silva into custody for alleged public intoxication, and Silva allegedly fought and resisted arrest. The sheriff's office said deputies used "baton strikes" to gain control of the situation.

As Eyewitness News first reported, a family leaving Kern Medical Center, near the incident, became witnesses and took cellphone video. The family also called 911.

A few hours later, sheriff's investigators were at the witnesses' home, demanding two phones reportedly containing video of the arrest.

One man voluntarily gave his phone to investigators, because he had to go to work. However, a woman refused to turn over her phone until the sheriff's office produced a search warrant, which it did.

That family has retained an attorney, who's questioning the seizure of the video and trying to get the phones returned. The witnesses and attorney have said deputies were heavy-handed in taking the phones.

Tuesday, the sheriff's office said it has requested the FBI conduct a forensic analysis of the contents of the cellphones. Sheriff Donny Youngblood also asked the FBI to conduct a parallel investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Also Tuesday, Bakersfield police confirmed that the sheriff's office asked them to conduct a forensic examination on the phones. Police said that examination was done from Friday to Tuesday, and the phones were returned to the sheriff's office in the same condition as they were given to police.

The sheriff's office said the analysis by police confirmed the existence of video of the incident on one phone but not on the other phone. That prompted the subsequent request for further analysis by the FBI.

Youngblood declined to comment on the one cellphone video he did see, saying it's yet to be determined how many baton strikes were used, and where Silva was struck on his body.

Sheriff's office personnel flew the phones to the FBI in Sacramento for its examination.

Youngblood at an afternoon press conference said the deputies involved in the Silva arrest were placed on administrative leave for their own safety. The sheriff said the deputies have received threats from the public, and it's not safe to have them stay on duty. Protection is also being provided to the deputies and their families.