Nearly a year ago, Pubic Defender Jeff Adachi alleged that San Francisco sheriff's deputies were systematically forcing county jail inmates to fight one another while they gambled on the outcomes of the brawls. That's been under investigation by local and federal authorities ever since, and today the Chronicle has word that District Attorney George Gascón will announce criminal charges against the deputies believed to be responsible.
The president of the deputies' union, who denounced the whole situation as political and overblown, confirmed that deputies Scott Neu, Clifford Chiba, and Eugene Jones will face charges. Ricardo Palikiko Garcia and Stanley Harris, two inmates, blew the whistle on the fights and blamed Neu in particular, alleging that they were threatened with violence or denied food if they were unwilling to do combat. Harris claims Neu would cruelly train him, forcing him to do excessive exercise — as many as 200 pushups in an hour. Neu, who had previously been accused of three instances of sexual assault on inmates, was fired in April, a month after the allegations surfaced.
“It’s hard to imagine a place where you would be more vulnerable, when you’re behind bars and you have no choice when you are essentially assaulted and enslaved by state actors,” Adachi said of the incidents. “It is my hope that this will bring in a new era of reform in San Francisco County jails."
“These are serious crimes that damage the moral authority of law enforcement,” District Attorney Gascón added in a press release. “Subjecting inmates who are in the care and custody of the state to degrading and inhumane treatment makes a mockery of our justice system and undermines any efforts towards rehabilitation.”
New allegations also state that Deputy Neu forced inmates to gamble for food and clean clothing. He faces more than 10 years in prison on four felony counts of Assault by Officer under Color of Authority, four felony counts of Criminal Threats, and misdemeanor counts of Inhumanity to Prisoner and Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Prisoner.
Eugene Jones faces two Felony Counts of Assault by Officer under Color of Authority and misdemeanor counts of Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Prisoner and Willful Omission to Perform Official Duty for a total of five years imprisonment.
Clifford Chiba faces misdemeanor counts of Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Prisoner and Willful Omission to Perform Official Duty for a potential sentence of one-and-a-half years in County Jail if convicted.