A video shows Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who is currently seeking re-election, telling an employees union that it is better “financially” to kill suspects than to “cripple” them.
The Kern County Detention Officers Association (KCDOA) released the 2006 video on Monday as the union, which represents Kern County’s jailers, is endorsing Youngblood’s opponent Justin Fleeman in the county’s 2018 election for sheriff.
In the minute-long clip, Youngblood sits at a table facing an audience that is out of view. He poses a hypothetical situation about a “deputy that shoots someone in the streets,” and talked about the deputy training and costs to the sheriff’s office.
“When a deputy shoots somebody, which way is better financially To cripple them or kill them, for the county” Youngblood asks.
“Kill them” someone in the audience says.
“Absolutely,” Youngblood responds, “because if you cripple them you have to take care of them for life and that cost goes way up.”
In 2015, The Guardian reported that police in Kern County killed more people per capita than in any other American county. The biggest city in the central California county is Bakersfield.
“This 8,000 square miles of diverse terrain spanning the Tehachapi mountains to Sequoia National Forest is a ruby-red conservative bulwark within deep-blue California,” according to The Guardian. Kern County’s residents “have consistently supported an uncompromising law-and-order agenda in local administrations.”
Youngblood told local media that his words in the video released are being taken out of context.
“He was trying, he said, to explain that when a deputy does a bad thing it’s expensive,” the Bakersfield Californian reports. “The money comes out of the county general fund, which provides raises and pays for more deputies.
“Youngblood said the county’s policy is to use deadly force only to remove a threat to life of officers or the public.
“‘I’ve never inferred that we should shoot to kill,’ Youngblood said.
“Still, he said, the words aren’t right, even though the detention deputies did choose to endorse him during that election.”
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, KCDOA released the 2006 video in its entirety with the following message:
“Many people have asked for the full Youngblood/KCDOA interview to be released. Some have questioned the integrity of or video or said it was taken out of context. For these reasons KCDOA has agreed to release the video in its entirety.”
On Monday, KCDOA said the association released the video clip because “desperate” change is needed in the sheriff’s office:
“The Kern County Detention Officers Association believes that the Kern County Sheriff’s Office is in desperate need of positive changes for the betterment of all of Kern County citizens. Your Detentions Deputies know it is time to elect a new Sheriff who will bring a fresh approach and new ideas to tackle long standing issues facing department administration.”
Youngblood is also known for his anti-immigration stance. In 2017, he asked the Kern County Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution that would declare Kern a “law and order” county and not a “sanctuary” county.
And, Youngblood defied the California Trust Act, a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that restricts cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents, according to the Los Angeles Times.