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Jail Guards Allegedly Forced Inmates Into 'Gladiator'-Style Fights

Sheriff's deputies at a California jail allegedly forced inmates to fight each other for their own entertainment.

The four suspected deputies reportedly threatened to beat or starve the inmates of County Jail No. 4 in San Francisco if they did not fight, according to SF Gate.

One alleged match pitted the 150-pound Ricardo Garcia against the 350-pound Stanley Harris, who tapped out due to a headlock.

The encounter left Garcia with possibly fractured ribs, breathing difficulties and an inability to sleep on his side.

Prizes for the winner included hamburgers and less harsh conduct from deputies, reports the San Francisco Examiner.

The fights are said to have begun several weeks ago under the orchestration of Deputy Scott Neu, who has previously been accused of forcing several inmates to engage in sexual activity with him.

Garcia said,

They took me down to the hallway and told me to fight another inmate, which was Stanley, and told me if I didn't fight that I would basically get beat up by themselves, by Deputy Neu. And he told me he was going to Mace me and cuff me if I didn't.

He added that the only rule in the fights was no punching the face because visible injuries would lead to suspicion from jail superiors.

Harris said Neu once instructed him to do 200 pushups to train for a fight while the deputy threatened him with anal rape.

If the fighters needed to see a doctor, they were reportedly told to lie about the source of the injury.

The fights were first reported earlier this month after the father of an inmate who fought emailed a lawyer at the office of Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

A criminal investigation of the allegations is currently underway.

An attorney for the union representing the deputies, however, said the inmates' claims are great exaggerations of the truth.

The attorney said,

A deputy may have encouraged one inmate to work out. The deputy may have also allowed two inmates to wrestle in order to settle a dispute about who was stronger. The 'wrestling' was essentially little more than horseplay. There was no betting. The inmates were never forced to work out. They were never forced to fight.

The deputies have since been placed on paid administrative leave.

Harris and Garcia are now at a different jail, where they were moved "for their protection," as stated by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

Citations: SF jail guards staged prisoner fights (The San Francisco Examiner), SF jail inmates forced to fight (SF Gate)