California

San Francisco deputies staged inmate fights in county jail, public defender says

San Francisco sheriff's deputies staged gladiator-style fights between inmates in the county jail and placed bets on which one was going to win, a public defender said Thursday.

San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi said his office was alerted to the alleged deputy-orchestrated brawls through an email March 12 from the father of an inmate.

Ricardo Palikiko Garcia, the man’s son, told Adachi that he had been forced to fight twice before and the deputies were planning on staging another fight.

Garcia, 20, told Adachi he was forced to fight a man twice his size. Garcia also said he suffered injuries stemming from the fights. He also named San Francisco Deputy Scott Neu as well as deputies Eugene Jones, Clifford Chiba and another deputy whose last name is Staehly as officers who forced him to fight, KTVU reports.

Garcia said he fought Stanley Harris twice. Harris stands about 6-feet tall and weighs more than 300 pounds. Harris confirmed to Adachi that he fought Garcia twice, KTVU reports.

Adachi said three inmates have come forward with information regarding the fights that were allegedly staged at County Jail No. 4. Adachi also claims bets were made on which inmate would win the fight.

"This is the most troubling and outrageous conduct I have seen in my 30 years at the Hall of Justice," Adachi said.

Adachi said he came forward earlier about this information when he learned of another fight planned for Thursday.

Harry Stern, attorney for the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association, slammed Adachi’s allegations.

“He’s done only a cursory, sham investigation by interviewing only a few inmates over a scant two days, rather than have the decency to request a serious impartial investigation,” the statement said. “No betting, inmates were never forced to work out, they were never forced to fight.”

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he found out about the allegations Thursday morning and the four deputies have been reassigned to posts where they do not interact with inmates.

Mirkarimi said he never heard of the gladiator style fights, but described the particular jail in the Hall of Justice is “barbaric.” Mirkarimi said the jail's facilities are outdated, with some areas that cannot be seen on surveillance cameras. He added that the prison should have been closed long ago.

Mirkarimi said his office will not tolerate the behavior of the deputies and has invited the federal government and the Justice Department to assist in the investigation.

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