She called the police on the police.
CNN reports that Salina Quair, 34, called 911 on May 7 to report the in-progress beating to death of a man by other policemen. The incident occurred in Bakersfield, Calif.
After visiting a relative, Salina Quair was leaving the Kern Medical Center. As she hit the street, she saw a beating in progress and called 911:
“There’s a man laying on the floor, and your police officers beat the sh*t out of him and killed him,” said Quair, according to a tape of the 911 call obtained KERO-TV.
“I’m right here on the corner of Flower and Palm right now and you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor, and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now,” she continued.
The sheriff’s office has identified the seven deputies, including a sergeant, but the California Highway Patrol has yet to name the two patrolmen who were on the scene.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has said it will have no comment until its investigation is complete. However, a news release issued by the sheriff's office indicates that the incident began May 7 just before midnight, and proceeded as follows:
A deputy sheriff responded to a call that a man, later identified as David Sal Silva -- 33, and father of four -- was lying prostrate on the ground and was probably drunk.
Silva was “uncooperative,” according to the sheriff’s office, even after a canine was deployed. (No word in the report as to why a police dog was needed to help in a public drunkenness investigation.)
“The suspect continued to actively resist the deputy and the K-9. Additional deputies arrived on scene, along with two CHP officers who responded to assist. The suspect continued to resist and received baton strikes from the deputies attempting to take him into custody,” according to the sheriff’s news release.
After Silva was finally restrained, the police requested medical assistance for his injuries, the release said. He was having trouble breathing and was taken across the street to the hospital.
“While being treated at KMC, the suspect was pronounced dead at about 12:44 a.m.,” the news release concluded.
According to KERO, several witnesses, including Quair, described an entirely different sequence of events. They said that Silva was crying, begging for help and pleading with the officers to spare his life. They ignored his pleas and continued to beat him mercilessly -- until he fell silent.
Others claim to have recorded the whole thing on their cell phones. After the beating, the officers unceremoniously snatched those phones from them. Two of those witnesses have hired attorneys to get their phones back.
There is a surviving video of the incident, however. The beating was recorded by a security camera across the street, but its quality is poor. Still, one can detect two men scuffling for about two minutes before another man arrives. The two men appear to repeatedly hit the third man while he is on his knees and later as he is lying flat on the ground.
More police cars screech into the scene. Officers gather around the man on the ground, but their actions are obscured.
As stated, the video is grainy, and the blur of light and shadow makes it virtually impossible to see what is happening.
Witnesses told CNN they were awakened by the noise. One, who asked not to be identified, described a scene not dissimilar to the Rodney King beating of the early 1990s:
“He was asking for help. He was screaming with pain. He only got to ask for help like three times,” he said. “Those hits were brutal.”
Sheriff Donnie Youngblood has vowed to get to the bottom of the matter:
“I’m waiting till this investigation is done so I can look at it objectively and decide whether we did something wrong, and if we did, I’ll stand up and tell you that we did. If we didn’t, I’ll stand up and tell you that we didn’t,” he told KERO.
The Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office are known for use of “excessive force.” Just last November, the family of Jose Lucero, 33, won a $4.5 million civil judgment against the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, according to The Bakersfield Californian. The mentally ill Lucero had made delusional 911 calls from his home. Four sheriff's deputies beat, pepper-sprayed and tasered him, killing him in front of his parents, according to newspaper reports about the 2010 incident.
This is a case of calling the police (911) on the police.
This is a case of the police making sure to cover their tracks by confiscating cell phones from witnesses.
Silva's picture (and surname) depict him as a possible “Hispanic.” So, this may also be a case of police “profiling” of a “non-white” “drunk and disorderly” person.
As most black people understand only too well, the simple condition of blackness is enough for far too many police officers to place you under suspicion. Any “false” move can cost you your life.
And, of course, this is a case of the police investigating themselves.
My prediction is that Silva's death will result in no serious sanctions against the officers involved in killing him. (In Chicago, they would be promoted.)
The city of Bakersfield may eventually be forced to fork over a few dollars to Silva's family, but these particular cops will go on with their “careers” as though nothing special or out of the ordinary happened that morning.