Two Sheriff's deputies and one former deputy were charged on Tuesday for forcing inmates at San Francisco's Hall of Justice jail to fight each other so they could place bets on them, the L.A. Times reports.
The deputies allegedly set up a fight club and threatened inmates with physical harm if they didn't take part. Deputy Scott Neu was fired last year over the allegations, and is now charged with 17 criminal counts including assault, making criminal threats against inmates, and cruel and unusual punishment. He could face up to 10 years in prison if he's found guilty. Deputy Eugene Jones was charged with two felony counts of assault, cruel and unusual punishment, and failing in his duties. A third deputy, Clifford Chiba, is charged with cruel and unusual punishment and failing in his duties.
“I’ve been like basically witnessing and going through…deputies betting against me and forcing me to fight,” Ricardo Palakiko-Garcia, one of the inmates who was allegedly forced to fight by Neu, told a public defender last year, according to the Guardian. “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.”
The allegations became public after the father of one of the inmates involved went to his son's public defender with the claims.
“This not only speaks to a lack of professionalism by these deputies, but rather speaks to grossly inhumane treatment against human beings that were in these deputies’ charge and responsibility,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón told reporters. “Subjecting inmates who are in our care and custody to degrading and inhumane treatment makes a mockery of our criminal justice system and undermines any efforts toward rehabilitation.”