The FBI launched an investigation Tuesday into the death of a man who was beaten by authorities amid questions over whether officials tampered with cellphone videos confiscated from witnesses.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he asked the FBI to get involved after learning that one of two phones seized from witnesses had no footage on it.
Two witnesses told The Times that they watched the videos on each of the phones last week in the wake of David Silva's death. The case is generating widespread attention because several witnesses have come forward to say deputies ruthlessly beat Silva with batons on the head, even after he was motionless on the ground.
"Our credibility is at stake here," Youngblood said in an interview. He did not dispute the witnesses' accounts about the videos but said he would not draw any conclusions until the investigations were complete.
The phones were flown to the FBI's Sacramento office Tuesday for analysis.
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