San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said today he is reviewing his options now that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife. Mirkarimi, 50, pleaded guilty this morning as part of a deal with prosecutors, who dropped three other misdemeanor charges related to a Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.
He will be sentenced on March 19 to three years’ probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, 100 hours of community service, a $400 domestic violence fine and will be required to attend family counseling, prosecutors said. “The sheriff, one of our top law enforcement officials, has now pleaded guilty to an unexpected and very serious charge that has introduced a new set of legal issues that must be thoroughly reviewed,” Lee said in a statement following Mirkarimi’s plea. “I am working with legal counsel to review the facts and determine what options are available to me under the City Charter,” Lee said.
Under the charter, the mayor has the option of suspending Mirkarimi as sheriff, which would lead to an Ethics Commission hearing. The Ethics Commission would then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which would need the approval of nine of the 11 supervisors to remove him from office.
As for Mirkarimi’s wife, she released a statement today saying she is grateful that the legal process for the case is nearly over. “Ms. Lopez is grateful that this stressful public spectacle will soon be over and that she and her family can heal,” Lopez’s attorney Paula Canny said. “Ms. Lopez is grateful to her husband, Ross Mirkarimi, for ending this case and doing what she believes is in everyone’s best interest.” Lopez was not in attendance at today’s hearing for reasons not related to the case. Mirkarimi is still not allowed to contact Lopez because of a stay-away order obtained by prosecutors after he was initially charged in January with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness charges.
The order, which would have to be modified by a family court judge, also bars Mirkarimi from carrying or using a firearm, district attorney’s office spokesman Omid Talai said. Mirkarimi’s guilty plea today also prompted calls from a local anti-domestic violence group for the sheriff to resign. Futures Without Violence, a San Francisco-based organization working to prevent violence to children and women, applauded the legal system in the Mirkarimi case but said the sheriff should resign.
“As an elected law enforcement executive sanctioned for criminal conduct in the treatment of his family, he should resign,” the organization said. “Ultimately the community should expect the highest personal and professional conduct of its elected leaders and select a sheriff who can adhere to these standards.”
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