After Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi missed a reported 5 PM deadline to resign or face official misconduct charges, Mayor Ed Lee said in a press conference that he will be suspending Mirkarimi, replacing him with Vicki Hennessy, the former director of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management and a former chief deputy in the Sheriff’s Department.
Mirkarimi, 50, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in connection with the Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.
He was sentenced Monday to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and $590 in fines and fees.
Mirkarimi went into the mayor’s office at around 4 PM Monday for a brief meeting with Lee.
After about 15 minutes, Mirkarimi briskly walked out of a side door of the mayor’s office on the second floor of City Hall and up the stairs to his office on the fourth floor. He declined to talk about the meeting to reporters who ran after him.
“It’d be premature for me to talk,” he said.
In a brief 5 PM press conference, the mayor said he is moving forward with official misconduct charges.
Lee met with Mirkarimi later Monday and asked him to resign, the mayor said today.
“He has chosen not to resign, and now I must act,” Lee said.
“I have informed the sheriff he will be served (misconduct) charges tomorrow,” Lee said at the press conference.
“Sheriff Mirkarimi’s actions and confession of guilt clearly fall below these standards of decency and good faith rightly required of all public officials,” Lee said.
Lee briefly introduced Vicki Hennesey, considered, alongside Mirkarimi, a top contender for the Sheriff’s job when longtime Sheriff Michael Hennesey announced his retirement last year.
“I know I stand before you amidst difficult times for the city and especially for the sheriff’s department ” Hennesey said. “I am very grateful for the confidence of Mayor Lee in asking me to return to public service and lead the department.”
According to a release sent by the Mayor’s office, Hennessy retired in 2011 after a career that began at the Sheriff’s Department in December 1975.
“She 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 and the intake jail at 425 7th Street. She was at various times in charge of Training, Administration, Field Services, and the Custody Division,” the statement reads.
“She is a native San Franciscan and a Lowell High School graduate. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, a retired San Francisco police officer,” said the statement.
Hennessy will take over the sheriff’s department as early as Wednesday, according to the mayor’s office.
The Weekly reports that about 30 minutes before Lee’s press conference, Mirkarimi told reporters this afternoon that “at this point, I do not plan to resign.”
Mirkarimi addressed the media outside the sheriff’s department headquarters at City Hall this afternoon to say, “I do not believe that the conduct that I have taken responsibility for constitutes official misconduct.”
Mirkarimi, however, anticipated that he will be suspended, saying “I look forward to making my case to the Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors.”
Mirkarimi said he would be “more than happy to work with the sheriff-designee,” but insisted that he deserved to stay on as sheriff.
“I want to take full responsibility and I am,” he said. “By doing so, I believe I am still very able to be the sheriff of San Francisco.”
According to the Chron, Mirkarimi “refused to describe specifically what happened during the New Year’s Eve incident – saying he looked forward to telling his side of the story for the first time, but at a later date.”
According to the AP, Mirkarimi’s lawyer, Lidia Stiglich said “I’m not aware of any plans for the sheriff to resign…I’m disappointed it’s proceeding in this fashion. I think it should be left to the voters.”
Meanwhile, a much-anticipated press conference called this afternoon by Mirkarimi’s wife, Eleana Lopez fizzled as, KRON4 reports, Lopez failed to show up.
Her attorney, Paula Canny, told reporters that Lopez “is suffering from ‘terrible anxiety,'” and “is ‘traumatized’ by the media coverage of the case.”
Lopez has denied the charges against her husband but met with a neighbor, Ivory Madison, who recorded a video of Lopez recounting the Dec. 31 incident.
Canny had argued in court that the video should be excluded from evidence because Lopez believed Madison was an attorney and the discussion should be part of her attorney-client privilege.
However, those claims were rejected by the judge overseeing the case, as well as a panel of appellate judges.
Canny reiterated that attorney-client argument today and also said Lopez “feels attacked and used” by how the case played out.
She said Lopez “absolutely wants Ross to remain in office.”
According to a statement sent to press by the Mayor’s office, Lee has directed “the City Attorney to prepare the appropriate documents and notify the Board of Supervisors and the Ethics Commission, suspending Mirkarimi as Sherriff as early as tomorrow.”
After five days, the Ethics Commission will begin considering the charges and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which would need the approval of nine of the 11 supervisors to oust him from office.