A California sheriff is defending himself against critics after the release of a 2006 video where he suggested it was “financially better” for cops to kill suspects rather than just injure them.
Speaking to KBFX Eyewitness News on Monday, Sheriff Donny Youngblood of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said his prior statements were misquoted.
“I stand by the intent of what I was trying to get across, that just because someone does not die doesn’t mean we escape with less money or unharmed,” Youngblood said. “…Do I wish I would’ve said it differently? Absolutely. When you listen to the verbiage, it does not sound good. But I think the people of this county know that’s not what I mean.”
The sheriff, who’s looking to beat his chief deputy and win re-election, noted that the sheriff department’s policy is to shoot to “stop the threat,” not to kill.
The 12-year-old footage was recently posted to Facebook by the Kern County Detention Officers Association, a union that has opposed Youngblood’s leadership and endorsed his challenger, Justin Fleeman. In the post, the union said the department “was in desperate need of positive changes” and implored locals to vote in a new sheriff.
The clip shows then-candidate Youngblood in an interview with the Kern County Detention Officers Association, during which he made questionable remarks about police use of force and its financial impact on the department.
“You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting on somebody, and kills them? Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back and forth,” Youngblood said in the video. He then posed the question,”…Which way do you think is better financially? To cripple him or to kill him?”
Someone off-camera replied, “Kill him,” to which Youngblood agreed.
“Absolutely,” he responded. “Because if you cripple him, we get to take care of him for life and that cost goes way up.”
Chris Ashley, the director of Kern County Detention Officers Association, said the group was shocked and “disgusted” by Youngblood’s comments.
“We’ve been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade,” Ashley told The Guardian. “Our personal feeling is that he does not care about our families, and it has taken a toll on all of us … We’re exhausted. We can’t take it anymore.”