Bakersfield, CA – A sheriff’s race in California took a controversial turn on Monday, after a video surfaced that showed the incumbent sheriff explaining the financial benefits of killing suspects, versus injuring them.
The video, which was posted by the Kern County Detention Officers Association (KCSOA), was only a snippet of an interview Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood gave in 2006, while he was campaigning for the sheriff’s position, KBAK reported.
In the interview, then-candidate Youngblood was discussing the stark realities regarding the potential financial impact in police use-of-force situations, both inside and outside of detention facilities.
“You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting on somebody and kills him?” Youngblood asked. “Three million bucks, and the family goes away, after a long, back-and-forth and back-and-forth. What happens in corrections is a totally different ballgame.”
“It’s no different than when a deputy shoots someone in the streets," he explained. "Which one do you think is better financially – to cripple him, or to kill him?”
“Kill him,” someone off-camera answered.
“Absolutely,” Youngblood replied. “Because if crippled, we get to take care of them for life, and that cost goes way up.”
“The same thing happens to a death that occurs in corrections,” he said, just before the video clip ended.
On Monday, Sheriff Youngblood argued that the brief clip aimed to insinuate that he encouraged his department to kill suspects.
“In 40 years, I’ve never, ever inferred [or] said that we should shoot to kill, because we don’t,” he told KBAK. “Our policy says, and we follow our policy, that you shoot to stop the threat when you use deadly force.”
"I stand by the intent of what I was trying to get across – that just because someone doesn't die, doesn't mean we escape with less money or unharmed," Sheriff Youngblood told KBAK. "Do I wish I would've said it differently? Absolutely. When you listen to the verbiage, it doesn't sound good. But I think the people of this county know that's not what I mean."
KBAK noted that they attempted to obtain the full video of the sheriff’s 2006 interview from the KCSOA, but the organization did not respond to the station’s request.
Interestingly, the KCSOA endorsed Sheriff Youngblood in 2006, when the video was recorded, according to KBAK.
“We have been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade KCSOA director Chris Ashley said, according to FOX News. “Our personal feeling that that [he] doesn’t care about our families, and it has taken a toll on all of us...We’re exhausted. We can’t take it anymore.”
Sheriff Youngblood, a Vietnam veteran, said that he believed the union had released the video snippet due to the fact that they had not received a pay increase in nearly a decade – an issue he said was tied directly to the state of Kern County’s overall economy, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The sheriff’s conservative views have been both hailed and lauded in the sanctuary state of California, where he has publicly expressed his desire to allow immigration authorities inside the detention facilities in his jurisdiction.
He has argued in defense of deputies who have been accused of misconduct, and opposed a $3.4 payout to the family of a suspect killed by members of his department.
He even went so far as to openly question whether or not the dead man’s family wished that “their loved one hadn’t been a meth addict,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Watch the brief snippet of Sheriff Youngblood's interview below: