In a California county where at least 20 civilians have died in police incidents since 2011, another has spoken out. Just weeks after a suspect died nine days after being arrested in a violent altercation with sheriff’s deputies, another man says that earlier this year he was beaten, tazed and tortured while in custody for two days — then released with no charges.
David Scott Byrket, 53, a father of four with no criminal record, was arrested on April 21 by deputies in Kern County, a county of just under 900,000 in California’s Central Valley about 120 miles east of Los Angeles.
According to an account given by Byrket (pictured with wife Zina) to the New York Daily News, the deputies picked him up at his home in Onyx around 9:30 a.m. that day. They were responding to a call from Byrket’s son, who reported a domestic altercation. The elder Byrket says it was an overreaction on the part of is son, also named David, who had come home drunk from a wedding.
Byrket’s son later said the call was a “huge mistake.”
What happened next, Byrket says, is something you’d expect from a South American banana republic in the 1970s. He says he was thrown in a cop car in handcuffs. But as soon as the deputies, who were accompanied by deputies in two other cars, got out on the highway, the horror began.
“They pulled over, opened the door, and started kicking me in the side and on my leg for no reason. They kept tasing me until I finally passed out,” Byrket said.
After that assault, Byrket says that he was taken to jail in the county seat of Bakersfield, about 65 miles from his home, where he was stripped of his clothing, tossed into a solitary cell and beaten repeatedly over the next two days.
And then, the cops let him go.
Byrket’s family took him to two hospitals where tests showed that he’s suffered multiple rib fractures and fractured discs in his spine. Byrket wrote a letter of protest to the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, which now says it is investigating and can’t comment on the case.
On Aug. 19, Ronnie Ledesma was arrested in Bakersfield after deputies say he resisted and was struck with batons. he was also bitten by a police dog. Ledesma died nine days later. He was the latest in a series of suspects who died after being taken into custody by Kern County deputies.
SOURCES: New York Daily News, KGET Chanel 17 (2)