A California sheriff who's trying to beat his chief deputy and win re-election is fighting back after the release of a 2006 video in which he says it's "financially better” for cops to kill suspects than injure them.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood, of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, told KBFX Eyewitness News Monday the 12-year-old statements were misquoted.
"I stand by the intent of what I was trying to get across -- that just because someone doesn't 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 doesn't sound good. But I think the people of this county know that's not what I mean."
He went on to say the department’s officers are trained “to shoot to stop the threat -- not to kill.”
The video was recently discovered by the Kern County Detention Officers Association and was posted to Facebook. The union said in the post the department “was in desperate need of positive changes” and urged people to vote for a different sheriff.
The video shows Youngblood, who was a challenger for the office then, sitting at a table during an interview with the Kern County Detention Officers Association, arguing it was financially better for the department to kill a suspect rather than injure them.
“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.
“Which way do you think is better financially – to cripple them or kill them – for the county?” he asked. A person, who was not seen, replied “kill them.”
“Absolutely,” Youngblood replied. “Because, if they’re crippled, we get to take care of them for life. And that cost goes way up.”
Youngblood is being challenged by his chief deputy, Justin Fleeman, who has been endorsed by all three unions at the Kern County Sheriff’s Department.
Chris Ashley, the director of Kern County Detention Officers Association which posted the video, told The Guardian the group was “disgusted” by Youngblood’s comments.
“But we have been disgusted with Donny Youngblood’s leadership for more than a decade,” Ashley said. “Our personal feeling is that [Youngblood] doesn’t care about our families, and it has taken a toll on all of us...We’re exhausted. We can’t take it anymore.”