Pinoy bailiff an alleged witness to forced SF prison fights

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi said the two bailiffs who allegedly witnessed 23-year-old Pinoy Ricardo Palakiko-Garcia and another inmate being forced to fight each other, should be held liable, if they did not do anything about it.

“There needs to be a new rule that any law enforcement officer who witnesses another law enforcement officer committing misconduct, should be required to report it or be held liable for the same consequences if they don’t,” said Adachi.

One of the bailiffs, just identified as Bailiff Aquino, has been confirmed by the Public Defender’s Office as Filipino. Aquino and another bailiff named Collins reportedly saw some deputies force Garcia and another inmate twice his size to fight.

The alleged ringleader, Deputy Scott Neu, was the subject of a 2006 sexual assault lawsuit, involving multiple victims.

Adachi, who cannot believe Neu was allowed to work with inmates again said the deputy once again bullied inmates by forcing them to fight gladiator-style. He pointed out, “Both of these young men did not want to fight each other. They did not want to hurt each other. They were forced to fight and the deputies were betting money on them.”

In a recent news conference, Adachi said he launched a probe after Garcia’s father alerted his son’s attorney to the alleged abuse on March 12. In a phone interview with Adachi, Garcia, who was reportedly forced to fight twice, said he suffered from injuries. Garcia related, “I have bruises on my back, on my elbows, and also my ribs still feel like I may be fractured.”

Adachi, who said his office also interviewed other inmates, said at least four deputies threatened the inmates with violence or withheld food if they did not fight.

He also thinks race has something to do with the alleged abuse by the deputies, who are White. He said, “Ricardo (Garcia) felt singled out because he was Asian and Filipino and this comes on the heels of racist texts that were released recently where officers were talking about Filipinos in a derogatory way so this does raise real concerns about law enforcement and race.”

The four deputies allegedly involved have now been put on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. Their attorney has denied allegations against them.

Meantime, Garcia and the other inmates who were allegedly abused have since been moved to another facility. Adachi shared, “Ricardo (Garcia) is safe. We’ve checked on his well-being. And although he is quite shaken by what happened, he’s doing better.”

Adachi said there will now be a full investigation as to what really occurred in jail and he is hoping that the sheriff deputies responsible will be prosecuted. He said his office will continue to represent Garcia and make sure he’s safe.

Garcia is serving time for armed robbery and pharmacy fraud.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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