New SF Sheriff Hennessy Sworn In

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is officially suspended

Sheriff Domestic Violence

By the end of the business day, there was a new sheriff in town for the city and county of San Francisco.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee swore in Vicki Hennessy as sheriff Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

The ceremony means that outgoing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has officially been served with paperwork to be suspended from office on misconduct charges related to a high profile domestic violence case.

NBC Bay Area has learned that the suspension paperwork doesn’t necessarily have to be served to Mirkarimi directly; his attorney can also receive it on his behalf. 

The news Sheriff Hennessy used to serve as Department of Emergency Management director.

"This is not necessarily a celebration of me becoming sheriff but it is me agreeing to be sheriff so that we can get the work done," Hennessey said following the swearing in.

Hennessy retired in 2010, but agreed to return to public service at Mayor Lee's request. 

"I am appointing law enforcement veteran Vicki Hennessy as the Sheriff. With her nearly 35 years of experience, I have no doubt that she will get the job done, lead the Sheriff’s Department and support the good work of our Sheriff’s staff and deputies," Lee said Tuesday.

Hennessy has worked in nearly every division of the Sheriff’s Department including Captain of the old San Bruno jail, City prison, the high security jail at the Hall of Justice, according to the mayor.

Mirkarimi was suspended after refusing to resign after pleading guilty to one charge of false imprisonment in connection to a case involving his wife and a bruise that he left on her arm during a fight on New Year's Eve. 

"I do not believe the conduct constitutes official misconduct" Mirkarimi said Tuesday.

Under the city charter, the mayor can suspend the sheriff for official misconduct.

“Ross Mirkarimi has now pled guilty to falsely imprisoning his wife. After careful review of the City Charter and the evidence before me, I am suspending and formally charging Ross Mirkarimi with official misconduct,” said Mayor Lee Tuesday.

“I take this action with every conviction that I am acting on a firm legal basis and doing what is in the best interest of the people of San Francisco." he added.

The suspension is the first step toward Mirkarimi being officially removed from office. The case will now move to the city's Ethics Commission, which would then make a recommendation to the Board of  Supervisors. At least nine of 11 supervisors would then need to approve the charges for Mirkarimi to be ousted from office.

Mirkarimi was sentenced Monday morning a domestic violence charge. The sentencing put an end to the legal portion of the high profile case, but clearly the political fallout is still ahead. Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, 100 hours of community service and a small fine for one misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in a New Year's Eve incident that left his wife Eliana Lopez with a bruise on her arm.

In the past, Lopez has denied accusations of misconduct by her husband.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment in exchange for dropping three other misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.

Mirkarimi says he is undergoing counseling to address "my arrogance and anger management issues.''

District Attorney George Gascon said Mirkarimi will be barred from carrying a gun until a judge lifts a stay-away order that also prevents him from seeing his wife without court permission. Prosecutors said that order could stay in place for the entire three years of probation.


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