Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Breaking:[Updated] SF sheriff charged in domestic case


Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi at his swearing in January 8. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced Friday, January 13 that new Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was charged with three misdemeanors for allegations of domestic violence surrounding an incident with his wife on New Year's Eve.

Mirkarimi was charged with: one count of domestic violence battery, one count of child endangerment, and one count of dissuading a witness. An arrest warrant was signed late Friday afternoon, although the Police Department could not immediately say whether Mirkarimi had surrendered. Bail was set at $35,000; Mirkarimi's arraignment likely will be Tuesday.

[Updated: Mirkarimi was booked at San Francisco County jail early Friday evening; an SFPD statement received at around 6:18 p.m. said that the sheriff was released on bail.]

The former District 5 supervisor is accused of allegedly grabbing his wife during a New Year's Eve incident that reportedly left marks on her arm. A neighbor called police to report the incident last week, and police inspectors obtained a search warrant and confiscated a video reported to contain evidence of Lopez's injuries as well as a cell phone with text messages confirming what occurred.

At a packed news conference late Friday, Gascon also revealed that Mirkarimi may have been involved with other incidents of domestic violence against Lopez.

"We've heard there have been other incidents," Gason said. "We have information."

The district attorney also said that an emergency protective order was signed by a judge, meaning that once it is in effect, Mirkarimi cannot gho near his wife and child and cannot return to his Webster Street home.

The child endangerment charge was brought because the evidence indicates the couple's young son was present during the incident, Gascon said.

Gascon stressed several times during the press conference that his office was treating Mirkarimi's case the same as other domestic violence cases.

"While I do not relish having to bring charges against a San Francisco elected official, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state of California and as the chief law enforcement official for the city and county of San Francisco," he said. "While this case involves a high-profile elected official, we are treating this case as we would any of the hundreds of domestic violence cases we review and charge each year."

Gascon confirmed that Lopez has not cooperated with the investigation, saying that investigators have contacted her attorney and have had brief conversations with her.

Gascon said that there is photographic and audio evidence in the case. He would not elaborate on the possibility of other incidents.

Mirkarimi was sworn in Sunday, January 8 as San Francisco sheriff. The ceremony was overshadowed by news of the allegations, which surfaced in the press just days before the event and led San Francisco presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein to withdraw from administering the oath of office.

During a news conference afterwards, Mirkarimi said the alleged incident was "a highly sensitive matter, a private family matter." Those comments touched off a firestorm of controversy by newspaper columnists and domestic violence advocates. On Thursday, domestic violence advocates held a news conference on the steps of City Hall, just outside where the sheriff's office is located. Interestingly, Lopez was photographed near the group holding the press conference.

On Thursday, Gascon, during a roundtable meeting with neighborhood newspapers, said he was confident the DA's office and Sheriff's Department could continue working together. Sheriff's deputies provide security inside San Francisco courtrooms, where prosecutors are trying their cases or holding hearings.

"Domestic violence cases are hard," Gascon said, adding that is especially so when the victim won't cooperate.

From all accounts, Lopez has not cooperated. "I don't have any complaint against my husband," she told reporters after Sunday's swearing in ceremony.

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