Incidents involving Kern County Sheriff's Office staff in most recent history

Posted at 1:45 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 16:45:57-05

On December 22, 2016, the California Department of Justice and Attorney General Kamala Harris announced they were going to investigate the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office for excessive force, civil rights violations and other serious misconduct.

On July 14, 2015, 59-year-old Larry Eugene Maharrey died after colliding with KCSO deputy Marvin Gomez while driving down the road. Maharrey's family filed a wrongful death suit after witnesses shared that Gomez did not have his sirens on as he began making a left turn at a red light just as Maharrey was crossing the intersection.

In September 2014, KCSO deputy Nicolas Clerico was going 85 miles per hour - with lights and sirens activated - when he ran into a car driven by Nancy Garrett, killing her. Garrett had her view blocked by a building, which removed all fault from her during the crash. This was Clerico's second time crashing into a vehicle after speeding, he had previously done so in 2012 with no injuries.

In May 2013, 33-year-old David Silva died while in KCSO custody. Deputies shared that when they found Silva sleeping on the sidewalk, he resisted and they began hitting him multiple times with nightsticks. However, witnesses shared that the deputies used too much force, as Silva was too drunk to resist. He was taken to Kern Medical Center and died an hour after arriving at the hospital. The seven deputies involved in this incident were still on active duty when the incident occurred.

On May 9, 2013, a $1 million lawsuit was settled with KCSO after deputy Gabriel Lopez was arrested and found guilty for sexually assaulting two women. He was sentenced to two years in prison for his crimes.

Deputy John Swearingen faced two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after he hit and killed two people in Oildale on December 16, 2011. While working on paperwork, Swearginen was dispatched to help Bakersfield police officers with a grand theft auto suspect. As he was on his way to the pursuit, he reached speeds of more than 80 miles per hour in an area with a posted speed of 45 miles per hour. He reached to grab his radio to ask for permission o respond when he took his eyes off the road and hit Daniel Hiller and Crystal Jolley. The two were crossing the street with a motorcycle that had run out of gas, and if Swearingen had been driving the posted speed, they would have cleared the roadway in time.