It’s only a matter of time until Stephen King’s The Running Man shifts from fiction to a real show on prime time television. Four sheriff’s deputies are in the lion’s mouth in San Francisco, after one of the city’s public defenders fingered them for allegedly organizing and betting on “gladiator-style fights” amongst inmates.
That’s no better than that chump who exploited the homeless years back with “Bum Fights.” Both exploit those desperate and lacking for amusement and monetary gain.
The four deputies are now on administrative leave while an internal investigation is being conducted, according to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Thursday. Mirkarimi said he’s also requested the U.S. Justice Department join the investigation.
The allegations against the four sheriff’s deputies come from Public Defender Jeff Adachi. Adachi claimed at a press conference, Thursday, that the four manipulated the jail’s smallest inmate, Rico Palikiko Garcia, who weighs roughly 150, to fight the jail’s largest inmate – Stanley Harris. Harris outweighs Garcia by 200 pounds, weighing a total of 350 pounds. According to a private investigator hired by Adachi, the two inmates had already brawled twice in the past, and had another bout coming up next week.
Adachi said in a released statement:
[Inmates] were promised hamburgers if they won and threatened with Mace, handcuffed beatings, and transfers to dangerous housing quarters if they refused to fight.
Though both inmates stated in the Hall of Justice that they’d been injured in the two prior fights, there were also “threatened with beatings if they sought medical treatment.”
For the time being, Mirkarimi said, both Garcia and Harris have been transferred to the San Francisco County Jail, in San Bruno.
As far as Adachi’s concerned, the brains behind the entire illicit affair was Deputy Scott Neu. Neu is already speckled with the questionable history of being sued back in 2006 for “forcing two inmates – one man and one woman – to perform sex acts on him” — allegedly. That case was settled guess where – out of court.
Adachi referred to the allegations as “sickening” and claimed Neu “forced these young men to participate in the gladiator-style fights for his own sadistic entertainment.”
Other charming allegations against Neu include making inmates gamble for their rightful possessions, including food, as well as forcing inmates to clean human waste and other bodily fluids without the proper safety gear.
Mirkarimi growled in a statement:
I am outraged at the conduct described in these allegations and my administration is committed to eradicating any behavior that belies the trust in our public servants.
Not everyone believes Adachi’s claims, however, which is not really a surprise, is it? The San Francisco Examiner reports one attorney working for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Deputies Association (SFSDA), Harry Stern, countered that Adachi’s allegations are based on “a cursory sham investigation.” The SFSDA attorney also believes Adachi’s claims are greatly “exaggerated.” Stern claims deputies may have condoned “essentially little more than horseplay” when it came to the “wrestling” – something along the lines of permitting vigorous workout routines. Stern said:
There was no betting. The inmates were never forced to work out. They were never forced to fight.
Mirkarimi claims he’s never caught wind of such fights at the jail, but he did describe the conditions there as “barbaric.” He believes the facility is “outdated,” contains blind spots where cameras can’t see everything, and should have long been shut down.
With the new drug cocktail becoming harder to come by, states like Utah are looking for alternative ways to mete out “justice,” such as bringing back the firing squad. How long before we let these inmates fight for their freedom on a live-action game show heavily sponsored and plastered all over prime time if we’ve got sheriff’s deputies making inmates wrestle merely for their entertainment?
Of course, that’s nothing new, certainly either. Authorities have been making inmates do unspeakable things to each other as long as there have been jails, no doubt. Perhaps the hit new show, “The Running Man,” can be kicked a few more seasons down the line.