12-Year-Old Videotape Lands Kern County Sheriff in Hot Water

12-year-old videotape of Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood discussing officer use of force has elicited outrage from civil rights advocates and members of the community.

The video was taken in 2006 during Youngblood’s first campaign for county sheriff. It was released Monday by the Kern County Detention Officers Association, which is supporting Youngblood’s opponent Justin Fleeman in the 2018 election.

In the video, Younblood is seen discussing the financial costs of wounding vs. killing a suspect during an altercation with police, and suggests that killing them would be a wiser financial decision.

"Which way do you think is better financially, to cripple them or kill them...for the county?" he asks.

“Kill them?” an audience member responds.

"Absolutely," says Youngblood. "Because if you cripple them you gotta take care of them for life, and that cost goes way up."

The difference between wounding and killing a suspect can range in the "millions and millions of dollars,” says Youngblood.

"When a guy makes a bad shoot on somebody and kills them, three million bucks and the family goes away, after a long back and forth…”

The sheriff says he stands by the substance of his comments, but wishes he had said it differently. He has never advocated shoot-to-kill policies, he says.

“I think the people of this county know that that’s not what I mean.”


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