SF Public Defender Claims Inmates Forced to Fight

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Five inmates in the San Francisco County Jail are alleging that sheriffs’ deputies forced them to fight each other for the deputies’ amusement, city public defender Jeff Adachi said Thursday.

Adachi told public radio station KQED News, “We learned recently that there were a group of deputies led by who I would call the ring-leader, Deputy [Scott] Neu, and he was forcing inmates to fight, gladiator-style, for his own sadistic entertainment.” He added, that if the accusations proved to be true, they encompassed “outrageously sadistic scenarios that sound like its out of Game of Thrones,” according to the San Francisco Examiner. The fights allegedly began March 3.

The ringleader of these fights, according to the Public Defender’s investigation, was veteran Deputy Scott Neu, who was accused in a 2006 civil rights lawsuit of sexually tormenting several inmates at County Jail.

Ricardo Garcia, one of the inmates making the charges, told his father about the alleged fighting, prompting his father to contact Adachi on March 12. When a deputy public defender contacted Garcia, who is 5’9″ tall and weighs about 150 pounds, Garcia clammed up, stating that he feared retribution. But then two other inmates, Keith Richardson and Stanley Harris, contacted Adachi.

Adachi then contacted private investigator Barry Simon, asking him to investigate. After Simon interviewed the five inmates, he was convinced they were telling the truth, asserting, “I guess the main thing that struck me the most was their consistency in what they said and how they presented it, and it was all coming from very disparate angles.”

The Examiner reported that both men were told they would be beaten if they refused to fight, but the winner would receive hamburgers and better treatment.

Eugene Cerbone, the head of the San Francisco Sheriffs’ Deputies Association, dismissed the accusations, saying, “They’re only allegations. I don’t believe in them. I believe in my deputies before I believe people who are committing crimes in the city of San Francisco.” He told KQED that he alerted the four deputies, Scott Neu, Eugene Jones, Clifford Chiba and Evan Staehely, that there would be lawyers to defend them from the charges.