Inmates at a San Francisco jail were forced into "gladiator-style fights" by sheriff's deputies who bet on the outcomes, according to a public defender.
The accusations are “outrageously sadistic scenarios that sound like its out of Game of Thrones," public defender Jeff Adachi told The San Francisco Examiner.
Adachi said in a news release that the fights were orchestrated by Deputy Scott Neu, who made 150-pound Rico Palikiko Garcia to fight 350-pound Stanly Harris twice this month at the jail in the city's Hall of Justice.
The two were promised hamburgers for winning, and "threatened with Mace, handcuffed beatings, and transfers to dangerous housing quarters if they refused to fight," the news release said. And when both men were injured in the fight, they were told they would be beaten if they sought medical attention.
“They took me down to the hallway and told me to fight another inmate, which was Stanley, and told me if I didn’t fight that I would basically get beat up by themselves, by Deputy Neu. And he told me he was going to Mace me and cuff me if I didn’t." Garcia said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“And he told me anything goes. Just don’t punch the face so no one can basically see the marks. But anything goes, other than the face,” he was quoted as saying.
Harris also described the fights.
"Deputy Neu made me fight another individual that we’re -- we’re housed in the same tank. He made us fight. We had like two fights already," he said, according to CBS San Francisco. "He would make us just wrestle and fight each other to his own entertainment.”
Private investigator Barry Simon interviewed the inmates, and his report is available online here.
Inmates also allege that Neu liked to gamble with them -- but the stakes would often be their own possessions and food.
Neu was accused of forcing a male and female inmate to perform sex acts on him in a 2006 case that was settled out of court, the public defender's office said.
Adachi said he was going to wait until his clients were safely out of the jail before going public. But when he learned of another fight set for next week, he took action.
Four deputies have been transferred to positions where they will have no contact with inmates while the accusations are investigated, and two bailiffs who knew about the fights but didn't say anything about them may also be reassigned.
The two inmates have also been transferred to another jail for their protection.
“I do not accept any kind of culture within our county jail system that would resort to such barbaric or unlawful activity as these deputies have demonstrated,” San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told CBS San Francisco.
The jail on the 7th floor of the Hall of Justice should have been shut down long ago because there are areas that can't be seen on surveillance cameras, he told Bay City news.
"The conduct alleged against these Sheriff’s Department deputies is deplorable," the San Francisco District Attorney's Office said in a statement cited by NBC Bay Area. "Common sense indicates that such conduct does not occur without the knowledge of numerous people. These allegations require an independent and thorough investigation into the practices and supervision at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department."
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