In addition to criminal charges, three San Francisco sheriff’s deputies accused of forcing inmates to fight gladiator-style in a city jail are now facing a civil suit over the allegations of ongoing abuse and harassment of three inmates.
The three inmates — Ricardo Palikiko-Garcia, Stanley Harris and Keith Dwayne Richardson — are suing four deputies and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department alleging the deputies forced them to fight each other, took their food from them and made them gamble to get it back, among other allegations.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday by the law offices of noted civil rights attorney John Burris.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office brought criminal charges earlier this month against three of the deputies: Scott Neu, Eugene Jones and Clifford Chiba. The suit also names a fourth deputy, Evan Staehely, as being present for the fights.
Neu was identified in the suit as the main instigator of the fights and faces the most serious criminal charges. According to the suit, he forced inmates Palikiko-Garcia and Harris to fight multiple times to the point where Palkiko-Garcia suffered injuries to his ribs, head and groin.
But when Palkiko-Garcia tried to refuse to fight, Neu would threaten to handcuff and beat him, according to the suit.
Neu referred to Harris as his “champion” and said he was training him, becoming infuriated when he lost a fight. He forced Harris to do pushups, withheld food from him and tried to fight him himself twice, at one point taking off his shirt and equipment, according to the complaint.
The deputies also allegedly tried to force Richardson to fight but he refused. They made him gamble with dice or cards for his food and often took it anyway even when Richardson had won a bet, according to the suit.
The allegations came to light last year after the inmates reported what was happening to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, prompting then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to seek Neu’s termination.
Neu had already faced allegations of misconduct in 2006, when a civil suit accused him of sexually assaulting several inmates. The case was settled and Neu remained working at the jail.
The deputies have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and are free on bail. They are next scheduled to appear in court on March 28.