The inmate had been ranting. He was in his cell hollering at a group of deputies. At one point he said, “I want to go to death row.”
The group of San Francisco sheriff’s deputies outside of the cell wore riot gear; one even held a plexiglass shield. Then they piled into the cell, and the inmate was temporarily quieted.
The scene was captured on camera last July inside of San Francisco’s seventh floor jail at 850 Bryant St. in the administrative segregation unit, for the most violent inmates.
The video, which shows Scanvinski Hymes being taken from his cell, is now a piece of evidence in one of several cases against the former state prisoner charged with threatening several sheriff’s deputies who took part in his “cell extraction.”
Hymes was sent to the hospital after the incident to treat lacerations to his face and a fractured nose. He says the deputies kicked him in his face when he was on the ground; they contend he struck his cell’s toilet.
In either case, cell extractions, when a team of riot gear-wearing deputies removes a prisoner from his cell, are not something many people have seen.
The incident began with an alleged mouth full of spit.
“Did you know there was spit in my mouth?” said Hymes, 45, to a visibly uncomfortable sheriff’s deputy in a recent court hearing.
“I heard you bring it up,” replied deputy Sgt. Milton Bliss, who was answering as part of Hymes’s preliminary hearing on a list of charges including criminal threats that stem from the July 2014 incident.
It’s not every day an inmate gets to question one of his guards in open court, but Hymes is representing himself in the matter, so he got to question several officers involved in the extraction.
Hymes, described by Bliss as a “loose cannon” and “one of the most dangerous inmates in our custody,” is in the jail’s administrative segregation unit with Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, awaiting an attempted murder charge among others.
Hymes’ reputation precedes him. During one of his stints in state prison, he appeared on “Lockup” on MSNBC and was recorded on video in a rage during another cell extraction.
But Hymes and a handful of sheriff’s deputies were in the courtroom recently for what happened the day the video was recorded at the County Jail.
The incident began when Bliss walked past Hymes. Bliss said in court Hymes started to gather spit in his mouth. That is when Bliss, according to testimony, pepper sprayed Hymes. The extraction, said Bliss, was only a formality: when an inmate is pepper sprayed they must have medical attention.
Bliss was one of the sheriff’s deputies he’d subpoenaed, including Eugene Jones and Scott Neu, both alleged to have taken part in staging fights
inside the jail. Nue has since been notified of his pending termination.
The case, which is set to go to trial, alleges that Hymes threatened the deputies before they took him from his cell. In the process, they allege he hit his head on his cell’s toilet. But Hymes says they beat him during the extraction.
“I was beaten by deputies at County Jail 4 while in handcuffs and leg shackles,” wrote Hymes in his claim with The City filed in January. “That was a planned beating by Sgt. Milton Bliss and others. I had to go to San Francisco General Hospital. Sgt. Bliss filed a false report.”
Hymes says that he was targeted for a beating because of his reputation from his time in prison.
“I think some of the deputies took this as a challenge,” he said.
But the video of the incident taken by a deputy during the extraction is less clear on that point. It shows an irate Hymes yelling insults and hollering things like “I’m an equal opportunity mother fucker.”
The video doesn’t show any direct threats. When the deputies come to the cell, he sticks his hands through the cell bars to be handcuffed. Then his feet are shackled before the deputies enter the cell. The group pushes in and Hymes is thrown to the ground and smothered.
Afterward, Hymes was taken to jail medical and then put in a cell to await transfer to the hospital. When the camera went off, he got in a fight with several deputies, according to Bliss.
The Sheriff’s Department wouldn’t comment on the July incident other than to say that it is under investigation, and that the deputies are being questioned as a result of their possible involvement.
Hymes is set to appear in court Wednesday for his arraignment on one felony count of criminal threats and three misdemeanors.