Fired San Francisco deputy alleges political payback 

Sheriff Michael Hennessey has fired one of his deputies — who is running for sheriff himself — after he allegedly beat a female inmate, but the deputy claims he was the victim of political payback.

David Wong, a 20-year veteran who was the sole candidate to run against Hennessey in 2007 and is running for the post again in November, was fired in May for allegedly striking a handcuffed inmate.

In an email to members of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association obtained by The San Francisco Examiner, Wong wrote he was terminated shortly after Hennessey — who is retiring — endorsed Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to replace him as sheriff. Wong said he had never been written up, or given a warning or suspension, in his career.

“Even if the charge against me were true, which the claim is not, I was terminated for a minor infraction which has normally resulted at most in no more than a suspension,” Wong wrote. “The sour note of political [tactics] has hung over our heads for way too long.”

But Eileen Hirst, a spokeswoman for Hennessey, disputed Wong’s claims. He was terminated by Hennessey for “striking a handcuffed female prisoner multiple times and for lying about it during the department’s investigation,” Hirst said. “Mr. Wong admitted both acts of misconduct to the sheriff in a hearing on May 19.” Three deputies have been fired in the past four years, Hirst said.  

Wong was protecting civilian staff in the incident, he said in an interview Tuesday. “Force was used, but if what I did was that serious, I would’ve been charged with a civil rights violation,” he said

Wong is currently appealing the termination with a Civil Service Commission arbitrator.

Wong is one of six candidates running for sheriff in November’s election. On Friday, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association voted overwhelmingly to support Capt. Paul Miyamoto for sheriff, with 353 of nearly 400 votes cast. Wong, a past president of the union, received 11 votes and Mirkarimi two.

Wong also said he had been pressured not to run for sheriff in November by a “prominent Democratic leader” whom he would not identify.

“I’m a lifetime Democrat,” Wong said. “I’ve always voted. But I really feel bad about being a Democrat right now.”

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