Target: Chief Greg Williamson, Bakersfield California Police Department
Goal: Immediate release of footage involving the beating of David Sal Silva
Earlier this week, David Sal Silva, a father of four children, was beaten to death by Bakersfield police in front of several witnesses. The officers involved claim that Silva became aggressive, and they had to use force to subdue him – including the use of a police dog. Several witnesses were able to film the incident, only to have police procure warrants to enter their homes and seize the recording devices containing the footage. Witnesses claim that Silva was on the ground, screaming for help while officers continued to beat him.
Police attempted to retrieve the phones and footage without warrants by intimidating the original owners, keeping them inside their houses unless they handed over their cellphones. This constitutes not only intimidation and harassment, but a violation of these witnesses’ fourth amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
The lawyers representing the Silva family have expressed concern regarding the police’s control of the footage, claiming that they may tamper with it to modify the outcome of a trial. This is an act of obscuring evidence, and if it were not directed at police officers, would likely be considered in contempt of court.
We can not allow police departments to behave like thugs. As every citizen has the right to fair trial and due process, the Silva family has every right to find out how they lost a member of their family. Signing this petition would demand the immediate release of the footage in question to the witnesses.
Dear Chief Greg Williamson,
The recent events involving David San Silva’s fatal encounter with members of your department has shaken the community. Yet officers under your jurisdiction have confiscated evidence from witnesses that could shed light on the nature of this confrontation, using unconventional methods to obtain said evidence. Witnesses at the scene claim that Silva was pleading for his life, yet officers continued to beat him with batons while he was lying on the ground.
After the incident, Officers intimidated and harassed witnesses until one released a cell phone containing video footage, and returned with a warrant to confiscate a phone from another. If the intent of obtaining these videos was benign, it would be appropriate to leave the gathering of such evidence to a subpoena duces tecum rather than physical removal by officers.
The Silva family has the right to know the circumstances that led to David’s death, and your department holds the most solid evidence in the case. A fair trial is in order, and the Silva family fears officers altering evidence in a way that may obscure fact. I demand that you release the mobile phones containing footage, unaltered, to their original owners and encourage your officers to respect citizen’s fourth amendment rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rama via Wikimedia Commons