SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) — Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said Tuesday afternoon that he told Mayor Ed Lee he would not take a leave of absence from his job, despite being recently charged with three misdemeanors stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident.
Mirkarimi described the meeting with Lee as “cordial” and maintained that he could still do his job effectively while dealing with his personal legal troubles.
“We are doing exactly what we need to be doing” in the sheriff’s department and “it’s very important that I stick to the duties I’ve been ascribed to do,” he told reporters at City Hall following the meeting with Lee.
Lee said prior to the meeting that he would ask Mirkarimi to temporarily step down because his case had become a “distraction.” While the mayor has the power to suspend the newly sworn-in-sheriff, Lee indicated he would leave the decision up to Mirkarimi.
He said the mayor “rightfully comes from a sentiment of concern” because “the perception is this could be some sort of distraction.”
Mirkarimi is facing a trial for one count each of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with domestic dispute with his wife, Eliana Lopez. Police and neighbors said it occurred at the couple’s home on New Year’s Eve, during which time their 2-year-old son Theo was present. The trial is set to start Feb. 24.
Mirkarimi, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, did say that he would not take pay for the days while he is on trial and noted that he also would recuse himself from any disciplinary cases involving sheriff’s deputies while his case is pending.
“I think it’s only principled that I would not take pay while I’m in trial,” he said. But when asked by reporters if he would actually step aside from his post during the trial, Mirkarimi replied, “We’ll see if it comes to that. We’ll see.”
KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:
During Mirkarimi’s arraignment in court last Thursday, Lopez spoke and denied that she had any complaint against her husband.
The case came to light after Lopez allegedly told her neighbor Ivory Madison about the Dec. 31 incident and Madison called the SFPD.
Mirkarimi will return to court this Thursday when his attorney Bob Waggener will ask a judge to remove a stay-away order that is preventing him from contacting his wife and son.
Also on Tuesday, Mirkarimi briefly addressed allegations from an ex-girlfriend who told police over the weekend that he was abusive to her during their relationship.
“We’re going to fight it,” he said of the new allegations.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)