Jail justice?

If Drake Jones is to be believed, Sacramento sheriff’s deputies are still capable of cruel and unusual behavior in the county’s main jail. And he’s got video to back that up.

Jones was arrested on August 5, 2008, after an altercation with a friend’s neighbor. After booking, Jones was placed in a jail holding cell, which had a video camera in an upper corner.

For a long time, it’s very boring video. At about five minutes in, Jones goes to the cell toilet to take a leak. He pushes the button on the wall to flush. He shuffles around the cell some more.

About six minutes after Jones enters the cell, something weird happens in the middle of the picture—there’s a change in color around the area of the floor drain. The video is grainy, but it soon becomes apparent that liquid is coming out of the drain, onto the floor.

Jones walks over to inspect, then backs up as the flood spreads. He bangs on the holding-cell window, obviously trying to get the attention of the guards outside to let him out. He waves to the camera, pointing to the worsening sewer backup.

Sheriff’s deputies finally open the cell door, about 15 minutes later,and four beefy deputies swarm into the room fast, surround Jones and pull him toward the door.

It’s not clear in the video what provokes the deputies to do what they do next, but rather than remove Jones from the room, they toss him to the floor. One deputy takes each leg, removing his shoes and shackling his legs. Another deputy kneels on his back, another handcuffs Jones’ arms behind his back. When, after several minutes, the deputies pick Jones up off the floor again, it’s obvious that his clothes are soaked through.

The video doesn’t have sound. Luckily it doesn’t have smell, either. According to the lawsuit Jones filed last year, the floor was in fact covered with sewage, containing human urine and feces.

“Plaintiff believes that deputies wrongly attributed the sewage backup to something Plaintiff had done and were attempting to administer what they viewed as jail justice.”

Jones was, according to his complaint, held for several more hours, left shackled in a cell in his soiled, stinking clothes.

“It’s jail justice. It’s them trying to train their dog,” says Jones’ lawyer, Stewart Katz.

No charges were filed against Jones following his arrest that morning.

North Sac denizens might remember Drake Jones. He was the head chef and owner of the popular Plantation soul-food restaurant on Del Paso Boulevard back around 2005 and 2006.

The spot got great reviews, and for a while at least, Jones received accolades for bringing some life to the boulevard.

But The Plantation was considered a nuisance by the Sacramento police, for attracting unruly crowds and drugs and fights. And Jones himself was arrested in 2006 on drug charges. Those charges were ultimately dropped too, but the Plantation was shut down, and remains a depressing sight on the boulevard five years later.

When Bites contacted the sheriff’s department for a response to the jail video, Sgt. Tim Curran said, “This is going to play out in court. We’re not going to comment.”

A jury trial is set to begin February 22. The fact that the department is going to trial means, Bite assumes, that sheriff’s officials believe they can beat the once-celebrated chef in court.

But Katz, who has won more than his share of cases against the department on allegations of abuse (prostraint chair, anyone?) says he thinks the video speaks for itself. “Who does something like that? It just boggles the mind.”