As the nation once again grapples with a pair of emotionally charged fatal police shootings, the sheriff of one of the deadliest forces in the nation was caught on camera talking up the benefits of killing suspects.
During Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s campaign in 2006, he extolled the virtues of shooting to kill suspects in front of a group of officers.
According to the Root, Youngblood asked the group, “You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting and somebody kills them? Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back and forth.”
Youngblood continued, “When a deputy shoots someone in the streets, which way do you think is better financially—to cripple them or kill them—for the county?” he asked. When someone in the crowd responded, “Kill them,” and Youngblood agreed.
“Absolutely,” he said, advocating for fatal force instead on non-lethal interventions. “Because if they’re crippled we get to take care of them for life. And that cost goes way up.”
According to the data from The Guardian, Kern County deputies have taken his advice. During Youngblood’s tenure in the central California region, which has just 875,000 residents, Kern County’s law enforcement department has been among the deadliest in the nation, killing 1.5 people for every 100,000, a rate more than three times its southern neighbor, Los Angeles Country, which has a population of around 10,000,000.
After more than a decade in office, Youngblood is running for re-election against his chief deputy, Justin Fleeman, but many in the law enforcement community want to see him go.
In fact, Fleeman has been endorsed by four law enforcement unions in the area and the disturbing video was uploaded to Facebook by the Kern County Detention Officers Association, who called for the sheriff’s ouster.
“We have been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade,” Chris Ashley, a director of the association, said. While he said there were many more “disturbing” moments in the hour-long video, Ashley said officers in the region are feeling overworked and dejected by Youngblood’s leadership.
“Our personal feeling is that [Youngblood] doesn’t care about our families, and it has taken a toll on all of us,” Ashley continued. “People are leaving for jobs as gardeners, bus drivers, janitors, truck drivers, and other law enforcement agencies. People are just worn out. We’re exhausted. We can’t take it anymore.”