A recently discovered video of a California sheriff talking to law enforcement officers shows Kern County’s chief lawman explaining that killing citizens is better than wounding or injuring them because it costs less money and makes the family “go away.”
Although Kern County had a population of 875,000 people in 2015, its law enforcement officers were responsible for more deaths than any other county in America that year, according to The Guardian. During that year, Kern County deputies and Bakersfield, Calif., police killed 1.5 people for every 100,000 residents, more than three times the rate of Los Angeles County and 10 times the rate of the New York City Police Department in 2015.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Department is led by Donny Youngblood, who has served as sheriff of the county for more than a decade. During his first campaign in 2006, Youngblood spoke to a group of police officers, telling the cops that shooting to kill was better financially for his department.
“You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting and somebody kills them?” Youngblood explained. “Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back-and-forth.
“When a deputy shoots someone in the streets, which way do you think is better financially—to cripple them or kill them—for the county?” Youngblood asked.
When someone replied, “Kill them,” Youngblood responded, “Absolutely. Because if they’re crippled, we get to take care of them for life. And that cost goes way up.”
The video was uploaded to Facebook by the Kern County Detention Officers Association on Monday and called for the sheriff to be replaced. The group told The Guardian that the full hour of video contains even more concerning quotes and said that the group was “disgusted” by the video.
“But we have been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade,” said Chris Ashley, director of the KCDOA.
Youngblood is running for re-election against his chief deputy, Justin Fleeman, marking the first time that the sheriff has faced an opponent since taking office. Fleeman has been endorsed by all three unions of officers in Kern County’s Sheriff’s Department.
Shooting to kill is a tactic that has long been rumored to be a mantra of officers across the country. The “dead men tell no tales” philosophy is employed by cops because, frankly, it works.
In 2017 The Root examined over 10,000 cases between 2007 and 2017 and found only five incidents in which police were convicted for on-duty killings.
During Youngblood’s time as sheriff, a Kern County deputy has never been charged with an on-duty police killing.