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By Alex Horvath / The Californian
BY STEVEN MAYER, Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Determining exactly what happened from the time the first deputy contacted David Sal Silva in the late night hours of May 7 to the time of Silva's death less than an hour later is critical to law enforcement, the Silva family and the community at large.
But some information provided by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood does not square with information found in the coroner's autopsy report. In addition, some information in the report itself appears to be inconsistent.
At his last press conference, May 23, Youngblood discouraged the use of the word "hogtie" as he addressed reporters' questions about the Silva incident:
Reporter: Was he (Silva) hogtied when he went into cardiac arrest?
Youngblood: He was hobbled, and one of the deputies noticed that, he was checking his pulse, three times in 30 seconds, and during that time the pulse became weak and the ambulance attendant showed up at exactly that time and they un-hobbled him, they checked him. He had no pulse, and they started CPR.
Reporter: Sheriff, could you explain a little bit more about this hobbling, how it works?
Youngblood: I've told you all I can tell you about hobbling and hogtying.
The narrative in the autopsy report, apparently written by the investigating deputy coroner, appears to contradict the sheriff:
"Deputies and officers were eventually able to place the subject (Silva) in a hobble restraint. The subject began spitting and a spit mask was placed on him. The subject began vomiting and the mask was removed. The subject subsequently went unresponsive ..."
According to the report, a Hall Ambulance paramedic told the investigator he arrived on scene at 12:11 a.m. May 8. He said at that time he saw Silva lying on the ground on his left side.
The report continues:
"His upper body was on the sidewalk and his lower body on the curb and street. He was handcuffed behind his back and officers were tying a blue restraint around his feet. As he approached, deputies told him the decedent (Silva) was unresponsive."
Youngblood said Silva was "un-hobbled" when the paramedic arrived. But the paramedic appears to have told the investigator that officers were "tying a blue restraint around his feet" at that point. In addition, if Silva was "unresponsive," why were officers tying his feet?
The second apparent inconsistency comes from the autopsy report, and raises questions about when the leg restraints were removed.
The report narrative continues:
"He (the paramedic) said he saw a large amount of emesis (vomit) on the ground. He checked for a pulse which was absent. He turned the decedent (Silva) to a supine position (on his back) and initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts (chest compressions)."
At this point, Silva still had his wrists handcuffed behind his back.
"He (the paramedic) said after one round of chest compressions he requested deputies remove the restraints. Deputies removed the handcuffs and leg restraints. The decedent was transported to the hospital. He (the paramedic) told me (Silva) did not have any cardiac activity on the monitor."
After the investigator saw Silva's body at the hospital, he wrote:
"I observed a blue nylon restraint and a small piece of black nylon restraint cut at the foot of the bed."
While the report indicated that all restraints were removed at the scene, it appears that not one, but two leg restraints were at the foot of Silva's hospital bed. At least one of them apparently had been cut.
Did medical personnel have to cut or otherwise remove the restraints from Silva's legs at the hospital? How many restraints and what type were used on Silva? If all restraints were removed at the scene, as the coroner's report indicated, why were they at the foot of Silva's hospital bed following his death?
The sheriff and Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner declined to address these questions.