‘The Killing County’: New series highlights local police-involved deaths, including a Chain | Cohn | Clark case (David Silva)

February 7, 2023 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | News & Media , Cases , Video

‘The Killing County’: New series highlights local police-involved deaths, including a Chain | Cohn | Clark case (David Silva)

A new ABC News Studios-Hulu docuseries called “The Killing County” highlights several cases of police-involved deaths in Kern County, including a Chain | Cohn | Clark wrongful death lawsuit.

The three-part series, debuted on Feb. 3, features interviews with family members of victims who died at the hands of officers, and offers insight from law enforcement, criminal justice experts, and attorneys, including associate attorney Neil Gehlawat, a former Chain | Cohn | Clark lawyer who worked under attorney David Cohn on the David Sal Silva case featured in the series.

The content of the docuseries is nothing new, especially to residents of Kern County and those who have followed civil rights, excessive force, and police misconduct cases in Bakersfield and surrounding areas. Back in 2015, British national daily newspaper The Guardian unveiled its five-part series that examined the use of deadly force, rough justice, sexual misconduct cases and other issues involving “America’s deadliest police” of Kern County. It was part of a project called The Counted, highlighting the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015, “to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.”

Five years after The Guardian’s series published, a settlement was reached between the California Department of Justice and local law enforcement departments after an investigation into civil rights violations and excessive force allegations, many of which stemmed from Chain | Cohn | Clark cases. The settlement agreement required the Kern County Sheriff’s Office to enact an extensive list of reforms over the next five years aimed at ensuring the department protects citizens’ constitutional rights and treats individuals with respect and dignity, according to The Bakersfield Californian reports.

“The Killing County” repurposes the findings and the some of the cases from The Guardian’s in-depth coverage. In particular, the docuseries tells the stories of five victims:

David Sal Silva was killed on the night of May 7, 2013. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center when several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing. Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Chain | Cohn | Clark filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Silva family in connection with the wrongful death. On May 4, 2016, a settlement was reached for $3.4 million.

You can read in-depth about the Silva case at bit.ly/davidsalsilva.

The Bakersfield Police Department issued a statement about docuseries, and said officers are creating a “transparency portal” so people can make their own judgments about “statistical and factual inaccuracies.”

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told The Bakersfield Californian he had not watched the documentary and doesn’t see a purpose to commenting. The State Attorney General’s Office said in The Californian that the office reviewed a “wide range of policies and incidents” spanning many years to pinpoint areas for “systemic reform.”


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.