taser demonstration // Sheriff's Department
Pie de foto: en mayo se rechazó un sondeo del FBI solicitado por Sheriff Vicki Hennessy para determinar si la presunta golpiza de un reo que sucedió en abril de 2019 amerita una investigación penal. La presunta víctima ha presentado una demanda. Foto de Sam Goldman. An FBI probe requested by Sheriff Vicki Hennessy to determine if an alleged beating of an inmate in April 2019 merits a criminal investigation was declined in May. The alleged victim has now filed suit. Photo by Sam Goldman

A 21-year-old former inmate at County Jail No. 5 in San Bruno who was allegedly kneed, punched, and “bodyslammed” by a San Francisco Sheriff’s deputy in April is taking the city and the Sheriff’s Department to court.

Deshaun Roberts, who is no longer an inmate at the jail, filed suit against the city on Aug. 23 in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. The incident spurred Sheriff Vicki Hennessy to ask the FBI to investigate the matter, as first reported by Mission Local at the time.  

After an initial probe, the FBI on May 10 “declined to prosecute” the case and it was turned over to the Department of Police Accountability days later, said Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nancy Crowley.  

The case is but one of a surfeit of misconduct cases against sheriff’s deputies at the jail, where inmates have complained about regular beatings, “fight clubs,” and sleep deprivation. 

The lawsuit alleges that, on April 18, Deputy Alex Jayson wrongfully ordered Roberts to go back to his cell, and Roberts immediately requested a form to file a complaint against Jayson. Jayson allegedly told Roberts to wait in his cell for the form, but Roberts insisted Jayson provide the grievance form immediately in the jail pod. 

As Roberts sat down at a table in a common area to wait for the form, Jayson allegedly pushed Roberts toward his cell four times “with extreme force.” Even after Roberts allegedly told Jayson not to touch him, Jayson pushed Roberts against the metal stairs leading to the second floor of the pod. 

That’s when Jayson began to punch Roberts in the face “multiple times,” the lawsuit alleges. 

“The Defendant then body slammed the Plaintiff to the ground and punched the Plaintiff multiple times in the face and in the body, while the Plaintiff was laying on the ground,” the lawsuit says. 

As Roberts was lying on the ground, the lawsuit alleges, Jayson “issued multiple knee strikes to the Plaintiff’s stomach and rib section.” 

Roberts did not resist or fight back, according to the lawsuit. 

Following the alleged beating, Roberts filed a claim with the city that was subsequently rejected in June, the lawsuit says. 

The City Attorney’s Office has not yet returned a request for comment, nor has Roberts’ attorney, Stanley Goff.  

Beatings and misconduct have become common complaints at Jail No. 5. Only months before this alleged incident, Hennessy launched an investigation after some 15 inmates accused deputies of brutality, including repeatedly kicking inmates, shoving them to the ground, and forcing those inmates to pull down their pants and lie on the ground.

The District Attorney in February dismissed charges against three deputies accused of running a jailhouse boxing ring after it came to light that the Sheriff’s Department may have destroyed a hard drive with evidence of the alleged offenses. 

In May, 10 inmates, on behalf of 1,200 inmates at Jails No. 4 and 5, filed a class-action lawsuit against the city alleging they’ve been unconstitutionally deprived of sleep.  

For his part, Roberts is suing for “compensatory damages” and attorney fees, as well as “punitive damages against all individual defendants.” 

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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