Three SF Deputies Face Criminal Charges
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Three current and former San Francisco sheriff's officers face criminal charges of arranging a jailhouse "fight club:" ordering inmates to fight one another while guards watched.
Facing felony and misdemeanor charges are former sheriff's Officer Scott Neu and Officers Eugene Jones and Clifford Chiba, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday.
The officers staged the fights on March 5 and 6 last year at the county jail, between two inmates who differed in size by more than 200 pounds, Gascon said.
Neu told the men - Ricardo Garcia and Stanley Harris - that he would transfer them to another jail with fewer privileges if they did not fight each other, according to the district attorney. He said the inmates were also threatened with being "handcuffed, beaten and Maced."
Garcia, the smaller man, said he believed he may have suffered a fractured a rib in a fight.
"Subjecting inmates who are in the care and custody of the state to degrading and inhumane treatment makes a mockery of the justice system," Gascon said in a statement.
Gascon said Neu was the ringleader, and also made Harris do pushups and forced other inmates to gamble in exchange for food and clean clothing.
The jailhouse fights were revealed last year when an inmate's father told his son's public defender about them, according to San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
Adachi investigated and said several other inmates backed up the story.
"We call this sort of a 'Game of Thrones' gladiator fight, because it really was done for jest, and they were betting money on the winner," Adachi said in a statement.
But Neu's attorney Harry Stern said there was no fight club.
"Deputy Neu allowed two inmates to wrestle to settle a minor dispute. In retrospect, he shouldn't have. This is the sum and substance of the case," Stern said in a statement.
Stern said Neu let the inmates wrestle to "blow off steam."
Neu, 42, is charged with four felony counts of assault under color of authority, four felony counts of making threats, four misdemeanor counts of inhumanity to a prisoner and five misdemeanor counts of inflicting cruel and unusual punishment.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Jones is charged with two felony accounts of assault under color of authority. He and Chiba also are charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruel and unusual punishment and one count of willful omission to perform their duty.