Three San Francisco sheriff’s deputies are accused of forcing inmates at the county jail to participate in a fight club — for their own entertainment.
The father of an inmate first alerted authorities to the non-consensual fight club. Last March, former deputy Scott Neu allegedly forced two inmates to fight each other – “gladiator-style”- on the seventh floor of the county jail. Ricardo Palakiko-Garcia and Stanley Harris were reportedly instructed to avoid punching each other in the face — so their injuries wouldn’t show.
Palakiko-Garcia told the public defender: “I’ve been like basically witnessing and going through … deputies betting against me and forcing me to fight. And if I don’t fight, then he’s basically telling me that he was gonna beat me up, cuff me, and tase me all at once … and deputies are also betting against, you know, me and another inmate.”
Neu is now charged with “four felony counts of assault by an officer under color of authority and four felony counts of making criminal threats.”
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said: “Subjecting inmates who are in the care and custody of the state to degrading and inhumane treatment makes a mockery of our justice system and undermines any efforts towards rehabilitation.”
Harry Stern, Neu’s attorney, says this is all just a ploy by the DA to “distract the citizenry with a constant diet of press conferences aimed at satisfying his unquenchable thirst for self-promotion.” Stern claims that Deputy Neu allowed two inmates to wrestle to “settle a minor dispute.”
“There was no ‘fight club.’ There were incarcerated career criminals whom he allowed to let off steam,” he added.
The San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association is defending the other two deputies, Clifford Chiba and Eugene Jones. “They found no criminal wrongdoing,” said Eugene Cerbone, president of SFDSA. “Some of the allegations such as gambling and all that never transpired.”
Chiba faces two misdemeanor counts of cruel and unusual punishment of a prisoner and one count of willful omission to perform his official duties, according to The Guardian.
Jones was charged with “two felony counts of assault by an officer under color of authority and misdemeanor counts of cruel and unusual punishment of a prisoner, and willful omission to perform his official duties.”