Sheriff responds to controversial comments in old video published by political opposition
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Sheriff Donny Youngblood spent Monday campaigning in Ridgecrest and doing damage control in Bakersfield, where political opponents began circulating a video about him likely to offend at least some of the electorate.
The clip, cut from a video interview then-candidate Youngblood gave to the Kern County Detention Officers Association in 2006, includes comments about police use of force and its financial repercussions.
The jail deputies' union has publicly endorsed Youngblood's challenger, Justin Fleeman.
In the video, which includes red text captioning, Youngblood says, "Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back and forth."
As the conversation about use of force continues, Youngblood asks the law enforcement audience, "Which way do you think is better financially? To cripple him or to kill him?"
Someone in the audience says, "Kill him," and Youngblood responds, "Absolutely. Because if you cripple him, we get to take care of him for life and that cost goes way up."
Youngblood told Eyewitness News any insinuation that he encourages his department to shoot to kill isn't true.
"I stand by the intent of what I was trying to get across -- that just because someone doesn't die doesn't mean we escape with less money or unharmed," he said. "Do I wish I would've said it differently? Absolutely. When you listen to the verbiage, it doesn't sound good. But I think the people of this county know that's not what I mean."
The sheriff department's policy, he said, is to shoot to "stop the threat," not to kill.
Eyewitness News reached out to the union multiple times throughout the day, seeking an interview as well as the full, unedited video from 2006. Neither request was fulfilled.
In an apparent contradiction, the union that is so upset in 2018 wasn't in 2006. It ultimately endorsed Youngblood that year in his election bid.