Local News

Tuesday, May 14 2013 09:56 AM

Attorney shares more about Silva's life, death

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    Attorney David Cohn talks with Californian president and CEO Richard Beene about the death of David Sal Silva, and cell phone video taken during an altercation with law enforcement.

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    By Photo courtesy of the family

    A photograph from the family of David Silva showing him and his three daughters Makayla, 10, Katelyn, 4, and Chelsey, 8.

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BY CHRISTINE L. PETERSON Californian web editor cpeterson@bakersfield.com

Attorney David Cohn revealed more Tuesday about 33-year-old David Lee Silva and the events leading up to his encounter with deputies and subsequent death.

Cohn said in an interview with The Californian that Silva had had an argument with his longtime girlfriend, the mother of his four children, May 7, the day before the incident. Cohn said Silva first went to the home of his mother, who later described him as mildly upset.

Silva later went to Kern Medical Center trying to go to the Mary K. Shell Mental Health Center for some help, Cohn said.

The attorney also revealed that he recently received an anonymous voice mail message saying Silva was told by a security guard he could stay there but not sleep there, so he went across the street, onto a patch of grass and went to sleep.

Silva’s encounter with law enforcement came after sheriff’s deputies received a report of a possibly intoxicated man outside KMC and tried to take Silva into custody, authorities have said. Deputies said Silva struggled with them and they used baton strikes and a canine on him.

Silva died at the county hospital shortly afterward.

Cohn said he believes someone was with Silva in the area where the incident with deputies and California Highway Patrol officers occurred at some point, but he’s not sure of the details. That, too, is based on the anonymous voicemail message, which Cohn said contained details only someone with Silva would have known.

Cohn said he wants to talk to whomever left that voicemail message, but people are afraid to come forward because of the way deputies have intimidated others in this case.

In an appearance on “First Look with Scott Cox,” the attorney described Silva as the primary caregiver for his children, ages 2, 4, 8 and 10. He took them to school and music lessons, and cooked for them.

“This is going to be something that this family is going to live with for the rest of their lives,” Cohn said.

The 10-year-old child sort of grasps what happened, Cohn said. The rest know their dad didn’t come home.

Witnesses who took videos of the incident have said they contain footage of the struggle, which included as many as nine officers, just outside the hospital near Flower Street and Palm Drive. Deputies later seized the cell phones, keeping the witnesses from leaving their home until the phones were turned over.

Before Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s afternoon announcement that the cell phones had been transported to the FBI for analysis, Cohn said he was “shocked” that the phones were given to the Bakersfield Police Department for examination. He said they should have immediately been given to an outside agency even further removed such as the FBI.

With the rise of easily shareable videos and photographs, Cohn said other law enforcement has come up with ways to deal with that evidence.

The attorney said Los Angeles County has a protocol to follow if it believes a witness has taken a video of an incident involving one of its staff.

If they know that a witness has taken a video, L.A. County officials call a supervisor, he said. The supervisor comes to the scene and asks to see the video. If the witness says yes, the supervisor asks to download the video. If the person agrees, they take him or her and the video to the sheriff’s department and download it.

Only as a last resort would other action be taken, Cohn said.

Yet here, Cohn said, the people whose cell phones were taken don’t have them back. Youngblood said late Tuesday that he’s hoping the FBI will complete its analysis and return their phones within the next few days.

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