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BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Kern County sheriff's investigators wanted to learn more about David Sal Silva's activities in the hours before his death following a physical struggle with several law enforcement officers May 8.
So they filed a search warrant that would ultimately lead to the release of security video showing the 33-year-old as he sought help the night of May 7 in the emergency room at Kern Medical Center, and later at the Mary K. Shell mental health facility nearby.
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Investigators also requested access to Silva's medical records, noting in the search warrant affidavit that "these records may reveal a reason for the behavior" of Silva.
The security video and a limited number of Silva's medical records were ultimately released to investigators late last week, said Deputy Kern County Counsel Mark Nations. But first a hearing was held on Friday before Kern County Superior Court Judge Thomas Clark to determine whether it was appropriate to release Silva's medical records, and if so, to what extent.
Clark is the same judge who signed the search warrant.
"Some people at the hospital (KMC) felt the medical records had a mental health aspect to them," Nations said. No medical records for Silva were accessed from the Shell center, he noted.
Paul Hensler, the chief executive at KMC, said because medical records are confidential, and the fact that security video inside the hospital could potentially identify other patients, the hospital decided to ask for a court order before releasing the video and medical information.
Judge Thomas granted sheriff's investigators' request for medical records, Nations said, but the records were limited to those compiled during the current calendar year.
Neither Hensler nor Nations said they had seen the security video, but it was their understanding that Silva first went to the emergency room at KMC before being directed to the Shell center across the parking lot.
"He came to the ER just asking directions," Hensler said. "They asked him if he would like to see a physician. He said no."
Later, a security officer found Silva sleeping on a lawn on hospital grounds, Hensler said. He was told he couldn't sleep there and was asked to leave.
Apparently, Silva left the hospital grounds and lay down again near the corner of Flower Street and Palm Drive directly across the street. It was here he would be confronted by several sheriff's deputies and CHP officers, some wielding batons.
Before an hour would pass Silva would be dead.