Police in the southern California community of East Bakersfield allegedly beat a man to death last week, and now a lawyer for the 33-year-old's daughters and parents is using the word "coverup"—because the local sheriff's department confiscated the phones of witnesses who filmed the incident, the Los Angeles Times reports. David Sal Silva was on the ground "and eight sheriffs ran up and started beating him up with sticks," said a woman in a 911 call. "The man is dead laying right here, right now. I got it all on video camera and I'm sending it to the news."
Two witnesses were detained for hours and not released until they gave up their phones. The Kern County sheriff says the phones had to be taken as evidence in the case; the department had a search warrant for the devices, he says, and it asked a separate police department to review the clips. But the family's lawyer is not convinced. "It makes it look like a coverup. What we're all concerned about is, 'Are these videos going to be altered? Are they going to be deleted?'" Silva had left his house suddenly last Tuesday morning seeking emotional help at a hospital; after being told he couldn't sleep at the facility, he ended up falling asleep in front of a nearby house, per the lawyer. That's where the incident occurred. 23ABC News has surveillance video apparently showing the beating.