Stephen Ellison

Los Gatos Police Officer Resigns Amid Criticism of His Hiring

After a use-of-force incident caught on video in 2016, the former SJSU officer was fired but then reinstated

A Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officer hired last September has resigned amid criticism of his hiring after a previous use-of-force incident while he was an officer at San Jose State University.

There was growing public concern in the town over new Officer Johnathon Silva, and it was all centered around the video of him on a call while working with the San Jose State police in 2016. 

"Shh ... lower your voice. I need your name, or I’m going to take you to jail," Silva is heard telling Phillip Chong in the video. Chong was accused of watching pornography in the library and acting strangely.

Silva became exasperated at Chong’s bizarre responses to the officer's questions.

"What’s your birthday?" Silva asks.

"Uhh ... I can change it so ..." Chong responds.

"No, your real birthday," Silva says.

"I don’t have one. I swear to god," Chong replies.

At that point, the video shows Silva yelling at Chong to stand up, then he takes him down and punches him.

Silva was initially cleared of excessive force by then-San Jose State police Chief Peter Decena. But Chong sued. The university reviewed the video, settled out of court and fired Silva.

Even though Silva was reinstated by the state personnel board, he quit and was hired by Decena, now the Los Gatos chief.

The video was made public after media outlets used the new state police transparency law.

In a statement, the Decena said Silva had been reinstated and had undergone all the necessary tests and evaluations to be hired.

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