A recently discovered video shows Kern County Sheriff suggesting to officers that they are doing the county a favor by killing suspects rather than just injuring them.
The Guardian found that Kern County, California has the highest rate of killings by police officers in the U.S., and Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who is currently up for re-election, was caught on video saying it is “better financially” for local authorities if officers simply kill suspects rather than badly injure them.
Video of the meeting where Youngblood spoke those concerning words to police officers was discovered by an officer’s union, and posted on Facebook by KCDOA, The Kern County Detention Officers Association.
KCDOA noted in the post that they believe the people of Kern County deserve a better Sheriff. The group also told The Guardian that the full hour of video contains even more concerning quotes and said the group was “disgusted” by the video.
“You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting on somebody and kills them? Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back and forth,” Youngblood said.
He continued, “Which way do you think is better financially – to cripple them or kill them – for the county?” An unidentified man offscreen said “kill them”, to which Youngblood replied: “Absolutely. Because if they’re crippled we get to take care of them for life. And that cost goes way up.”
Kern County had a population of about 875,000 in 2015, and their officers killed 13 people that year. To help put that number in perspective, in the same year, the NYPD killed 9 people in all of New York City, which has about 10 times as many people.
Youngblood is running for re-election against his chief deputy, Justin Fleeman, who is endorsed by all three unions of officers in Kern County’s Sheriff’s Department. This is the first time the sheriff has actually faced an opponent since taking office.
California’s attorney general and the ACLU have ongoing investigations into the extremely high rate of police killings.
Th KCDOA has called for the sheriff to be replaced, saying the department is in “desperate need of positive changes” and urging voters to select a sheriff with new ideas.
Chris Ashley, a director of the association, told the Guardian that the group was “disgusted” by the sheriff’s remarks. “But we have been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade,” he said.