Sheriff’s deputies in San Francisco forced inmates at a city jail to participate in “gladiator-style" fights, while those in authority placed bets on the outcome, a city public defender alleged Thursday.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that at least four deputies at the city's Hall of Justice had forced inmates to engage in “outrageously sadistic scenarios, that sound like its out of Game of Thrones.” Adachi said that four deputies were involved in forcing inmates to fight, and named Deputy Scott Neu as the ringleader. Neu had previously been accused of sexual misconduct with male and female inmates under his command. That case was settled out of court in 2009, CBS San Francisco reported.
Transcripts of interviews conducted with inmates showed that two men were threatened with physical punishment and being placed in more dangerous accommodations, if they refused to fight each other. Winners of these fights were promised hamburgers and better treatment as rewards, according to the SF Examiner.
The San Francisco District Attorney's Office released a statement Thursday, cited by NBC Bay Area, which addressed the allegations.
"The conduct alleged against these Sheriff’s Department deputies is deplorable," the statement said. "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."
Among the fights Neu is alleged to have been instrumental in orchestrating, was one requiring the smallest man in a section of the jail to fight the largest. According to a statement from the San Francisco Public Defender's office, inmates Rico Palikiko Garcia and Stanly Harris were forced by Neu to fight each other. Garcia weighs 150 pounds while Harris is approximately 350 pounds.
Witnesses said Neu also appeared to delight in humiliating the out-of-shape Harris, forcing the overweight man to perform boot camp-style exercises. Neu allegedly called Harris “Fat Boy” and referred to him as a fighter he was training, the statement said.
Authorities were reportedly alerted to the fights after Garcia's father emailed public defenders to tell them about the inmates' plight, SFBay reported. San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi condemned the alleged abuse and has relocated the deputies involved in the alleged incidents, while Adachi has called for an investigation by state or federal officials.