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One-legged ex-pimp set to win $1M from SF—all from his jail cell

Vincent Bell, in San Francisco jail for an alleged murder, was already awarded $504,000 after he sued the city for a 2018 beating he suffered in county jail. Now he is set to get $500,000 more.

A man in a wheelchair is surrounded by police officers in a dimly lit, foggy prison hallway. The prison bars and shadowy figures are visible in the background.
Vincent Bell, a disabled former pimp in San Francisco jail for an alleged murder, was awarded $500,000 after he sued the city for a beating he underwent in county jail. | Source: AI illustration by Jesse Rogala/The Standard

A disabled former pimp who has been in jail for over a decade awaiting trial on murder could, for a second time, win more than $500,000 from San Francisco for alleged mistreatment in its cells, according to a settlement agreement set to be approved by the city. 

Vincent Bell, whose right leg was amputated after he was shot, has been in jail since 2012, when he was arrested and charged with murder for taking part in a series of violent acts that resulted in the death of a man who was found gagged and bound on the side of a road in Visitacion Valley. 

Since his incarceration, he has sued the city twice for two incidents in which he was allegedly mistreated and in both cases was forced to stand on his one leg. In 2022, a jury awarded him $504,000 in damages for the latter of those incidents, which took place in 2018 inside the city’s San Bruno jail. 

The image shows a corridor within a prison, lined with cells on both sides and guarded by officers in black uniforms. The ground is concrete, and the lighting is fluorescent.
Sheriff’s Deputies on duty inside the San Francisco County Jail located at the Hall of Justice building, in San Francisco on July 12, 2012. | Source: Michael Macor/SF Chronicle/Getty Images

Now the city is set to pay Bell a nearly identical amount of money in a settlement of a much older case involving similar allegations of abuse by sheriff’s deputies in the now-shut jail at 850 Bryant. 

“I think as long as Mr. Bell is feeling like this is a good day for him, we are feeling good,” said Bell’s attorney, Anjali Srinivasan.

The city said it settled because continuing to fight the suit made no financial sense. “We believe the proposed settlement is an appropriate resolution given the inherent costs of continued litigation,” said City Attorney Spokesperson Jen Kwart.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office referred all comments to the City Attorney’s Office. 

Both cases happened at a time of tumult and violence in the jails where, in 2014 and 2015, a group of deputies staged “gladiator-style” fights between inmates. At least one of that incident’s ringleaders, Deputy Scott Neu, was rehired this year by the department. 

The incident behind the pending settlement took place in 2013. Bell sued the city on Aug. 8 of that year, claiming he was “kicked and punched and tormented” by a group of nine deputies after being asked to return to his cell, according to court records. 

“My whole body was pretty much in pain from the exertion I had to put out just to hop from my cell.”

Vincent Bell

“I’m gonna push—throw you in your cell,” Bell said he was told by a deputy. 

When a deputy then tried to wheel him by force into his cell, he stood up on his one leg, he said. He was then cuffed, fell to the ground, and was beaten. 

“This is how you’re gonna receive it from here on out,” one deputy allegedly told him. “Every time—every time I deal with you, Bell, you’re gonna receive this kind of treatment. And when we get to the safety cell, I’m gonna kick in your face.”

Bell alleges that he was then dragged to a special safety cell by his wrists. Once there, Bell said deputies kicked him in the head and pulled his hair. 

In his 2018 lawsuit, Bell said he was ordered by a deputy to change cells as a disciplinary measure. When he remained in his cell, deputies proceeded with a cell extraction, which is used when inmates refuse to cooperate.

An inmate sleeps inside a jail cell.
The interior view of one of the San Francisco's San Bruno jail pods where inmates reside. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Bell said that he was in his wheelchair and put up no resistance, but the deputies proceeded to violently remove him. Deputies pinned Bell to the ground, handcuffed him, and told him to move to another cell without his wheelchair. 

“My whole body was pretty much in pain from the exertion I had to put out just to hop from my cell,” Bell said in a 2021 deposition. 

After he collapsed from fatigue, Bell claimed, he was ordered by deputies to stand before he was taken to a safety cell, stripped naked, and left there for 24 hours. 

His attorney claimed the treatment was punishment for filing a grievance against a deputy for sexual harassment.

The city has since appealed that case, which is still pending. 

Bell, who said in a jail interview that he was a pimp, was charged criminally in connection with the December 2012 killing of Stephen Reid, 26, who came to the Bay Area from Georgia.

Prosecutors alleged that Bell took part in a home invasion and kidnapping that turned deadly. Bell and four others allegedly forced their way into a home near San Bruno Avenue, where they found Reid and a woman he had been dating. Both were bound and gagged before being taken to a waiting SUV. 

Once inside the vehicle, Reid was shot in the neck and both he and his companion were dumped along the side of the road in Visitacion Valley, where both were later discovered by a passing motorist. Reid died of his wounds.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at