Crime - Sacto 911

Sheriff’s attorneys call lieutenant’s leadership into doubt

Another Sacramento County sheriff’s officer took the stand Monday to question the performance of the sheriff’s lieutenant who, with three other female deputies, sued the department in 2010.

Sheriff’s Lt. James Giannelli testified Monday, recalling fellow Lt. Annica Hagadorn’s tumultuous run as a day shift watch commander of what was then the department’s northwest patrol that led to internal affairs investigations against her in 2011.

Giannelli, then an executive lieutenant overseeing Hagadorn and the northwest patrol division, testified the relationship between the veteran Hagadorn and her sergeants had deteriorated. Under questioning by sheriff’s attorney Nancy Sheehan, Giannelli said sergeants or Hagadorn visited his office four times a week with each voicing complaints about the other.

“Sergeants were arguing with the lieutenant. The deputies didn’t know who to follow. The shift was dysfunctional,” Giannelli said.

Sheriff’s attorneys are just now presenting their defense in the Sacramento Superior Court civil trial pitting Hagadorn and three others plaintiffs – sheriff’s Lt. Dawn Douglas, retired sheriff’s Sgt. Tracie Keillor and Deputy Jodi Mendonca – against the department. The four accuse their superiors in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department of bias and retaliation that derailed long and successful careers in a trial now entering its third week.

Hagadorn said she was repeatedly passed over for assignments and promotion opportunities, then was reassigned and targeted for internal affairs inquiries after she complained to the state’s Department of Employment and Fair Housing before filing suit against the department in 2010.

Sheriff’s attorneys on Friday and Monday began to lay out their case, saying Hagadorn wasn’t up to the challenge of leadership despite counseling from superior officers. On Friday, retired sheriff’s Capt. Steve Bunce recalled a highly critical 2010 evaluation he penned that concluded Hagadorn had lost the respect of her sergeants through her decisions and relationships in the office and in the field.

On Monday, Giannelli echoed Bunce, testifying that the relationship between Hagadorn and her subordinate sergeants was at low ebb.

“You earn the respect of your subordinates. You have to show the knowledge of the profession you’re in and knowledge of what it is they do,” Giannelli said, adding with Hagadorn, “It was, ‘I’m a lieutenant. You have to do what I say.’ 

A January 2011 meeting called by Giannelli with Bunce’s blessing to clear the air between Hagadorn and her sergeants went poorly, amid Hagadorn’s concerns that the meeting would devolve into a humiliating “witch hunt.”

Giannelli testified that Hagadorn ultimately walked out of the meeting and later walked away from a one-on-one conference with Bunce.

Sheriff’s attorneys are hoping to squeeze in more witnesses before a planned weeklong recess in the trial beginning Thursday.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith