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Convicted SF Sheriff Mirkarimi Won’t Quit; Mayor Suspends Him

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, recently convicted of a domestic violence-related crime, was suspended by Mayor Ed Lee on Tuesday evening after he rebuffed an ultimatum to either resign or face removal from office.

Moments after a defiant Mirkarimi told reporters that he was refusing to step down, Lee announced the filing of official misconduct charges with the city’s Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors, which is the start of the process to permanently remove the sheriff from office.

“Ross Mirkarimi has now pled guilty to falsely imprisoning his wife. After careful review of the City Charter and the evidence before me, I am suspending and formally charging Ross Mirkarimi with official misconduct,” said Lee, in remarks that were televised live on CBS 5 throughout the Bay Area. “I take this action with every conviction that I am acting on a firm legal basis and doing what is in the best interest of the people of San Francisco.”

“I do not believe that the conduct that I have taken responsibility for constitutes official misconduct,” Mirkarimi maintained in his talk with reporters, although he declined to elaborate. “I look forward to making my case to the Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors.”

Lee quickly appointed Vicki Hennessy, the retired head of the city’s Emergency Management Dept. and a former chief deputy sheriff, as Mirkirimi’s interim replacement.

Hennessy is a former Chief Deputy Sheriff and retired Emergency Management and Homeland Security Chief. Her appointment makes her San Francisco’s first female sheriff. Santa Clara County elected the first one in California, when Laurie Smith became sheriff 13 years ago.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

The mayor’s decision came after mounting pressure at a tense City Hall for Lee and other city leaders to address the sheriff’s misdemeanor criminal conviction.

Lee and Mirkarimi had met for about 30 minutes on Monday after a judge sentenced the sheriff to three years of probation and ordered him to attend anti-domestic violence counseling for a year. It was at that meeting, CBS 5 confirmed, that Lee gave Mirkarimi the option to resign or face removal.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor and Doug Sovern Report:

Mirkarimi, 50, pleaded guilty to the charge of false imprisonment after bruising the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during a New Year’s Eve argument in front of the couple’s toddler son. The plea came after a deal struck with prosecutors to drop several other misdemeanor counts against the sheriff.

Lopez’s attorney Paula Canny held a separate news conference earlier Tuesday, saying Lopez “absolutely wants Ross to remain in office.” She said her client continued to maintain that she was not a victim of domestic abuse – despite a neighbor’s videotape of her injuries following the incident – and “feels attacked and used” by the criminal justice system.

Within five days, the Ethics Commission is expected to consider the misconduct charges and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which could remove Mirkarimi from office with the votes of at least nine of the 11 board members.

Former board president Aaron Peskin, currently chairman of San Francisco’s Democratic Party, summed up why removal could be likely.

“Ross Mirkarimi took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco. Now, his actions and the circumstances which surround him, fulfilling his duties and responsibilities and honoring that oath is no longer possible,” Peskin explained, adding that he hoped the sheriff would change his mind and voluntarily step down.

Mirkarimi was elected sheriff last November after serving two terms as a supervisor. He was sworn into office on Jan. 8, just days before the domestic violence incident became public knowledge.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



    bah baay.

    You might want to do the right thing on your way out, apologize to Ivory Madison and tell Canny she ain’t welcome in S.F.

  • Mikie

    Sorry to see him go. So now, does this apply to all elected officials or just Mirkarimi? Are the spouses going to be interviewed to see if they have been abused? What about the police officer’ wives? This has opened a swing door!! There seems to be no room for forgiveness in this town. I hope when I grow up I can be perfect like everyone in San Francisco.

    • Roger Craig

      there is to much room for forgiveness here. Need a strong mayor and stop letting everyone off the hook….

    • smketr

      Well Mikie don’t feel to sorry for Mirkarimi for it was his and his wife’s big mouth that got them were they are today. Every time he opens his mouth he steps in it and if the whole thing was benign as she claims it was then she should have kept her pie hole shut too.

    • RiLight

      Mikie, I hear what your saying, but step back for a moment and have and open mind. General Elected Offices and the lead law enforcement head are two different animals. You have to realize for Deputies in the Department, this conviction IS a Terminable offense. There is no IFs, Ands or Buts. Hennessey readily terminated deputies for the same Misdemeanor offenses, even for DUI convictions. Terminations in the Sheriff’s Dept is at the sole discretion of the Sheriff, no other person. The Sheriff is the lead investigator and judge. Other departments get the ability to go through Civil Service. We hear it daily how the public holds Officers to a higher standard of car when it comes to the law, so naturally, the head of the department should be held to even a higher standard. Yes, to your question; spouses of any DV incident are interviewed. It’s called an investigation. I’m a bit surprised you would even ask that question. What, we only interview the suspect? And yes, victims of DV in the families of officers are readily interviewed. On a regular basis you see officers convicted of DV cases and, as in most cases, its as swift and fast as the general public

      • Cal Real

        Remember the video in this case only shows the wife pointing at what looks like a bruise on her arm. No medical or professional case was made or reported when this video was made to determine cause. The wife looks a little fake with her demeanor also, and is probably exaggerating because the video was made for unknown purposes, not an official police or medical video, and because she is also a south American soap star for chrissake … so no one
        knows what really happened , if she pulled away from him quickly or
        whatever..I think this has gotten too political , and if he has no police record
        why don’t we give him the chance to resume his career again.

  • Ron J

    here are a couple lessons learned .

    1. Never elect a Sheriff with no law enforcement experience

    2. Never elect a Sheriff with his own Political agenda

    3. Never elect a Sheriff that isn’t supported by his own Association ,

    • Tom101010

      Hahaha spot on. Hes never even been a real cop

  • leslie

    Thank you, Mayor Lee for handling this is a professional manner. Personally, I believe he needs a swift kick in the rear on the way out.

  • Cal Real

    As for over reaction to Mirkarimis incident, which occurred when he was not
    on duty or even sworn in yet , this is in no way official misconduct. I believe this man also has his rights , and should not lose his job over this. Tell me what police departments in this area, have dismissed their members for a misdemeanor such as this, or even a battery case involving the officer and his spouse at this very low level of force, on up to a severe case of force. I would like that information made public if this very unfair piling on to Ross M is going to continue…Hang in there Ross !


      Get real Cal. False Imprisonment and Dissuading Witnesses go to the heart of Sheriff’s conduct. As it turns out, this is no flash in the pan, there is actually a pattern established over the years where Murk was caught lying under oath, thus committed perjury as a DA Investigator and he withheld exculpatory evidence and also changed and shoehorned witnesses statements in a misguided, criminal fashion, in an unsuccessful attempt to get a quick conviction from an innocent citizen. All charges, false charges, were later dropped but only after the accused spent 2 years as a pre-trial detainee fighting these false charges. It is quite ironic that the False Imprisonment is now a conviction, it ain’t the first time, this time he got caught.
      Please don’t open this can of worms, Murk’s past is what’s been knocking since early January that’s why a lot of people in S.F are pregnant of this dysfunctional bully.

    • smketr

      I’ll be happy to tell you which police departments in the area have dismissed members for domestic abuse charges, all of them my friend. As a sworn police officer in California, any charge of domestic abuse is cause to keep the officer from carrying a firearm, therefore, unable to perform his job. You are right, most cases do not end up in termination, but some do and have. The problem here is exceptional in that Mirkarimi is the “Top Cop” in the department and that makes headlines my uninformed friend.

      • Cal Real

        Yes , well CBS5 needs to report this statistic then and tell us exactly how many
        Police and sheriff employees lost their job after a first offense misdemeanor case.
        Any report in the news I’ve ever seen regarding cops and sheriffs only
        seems to say how they are NOT fired , how they are on paid leave , etc. when they run into a legal hassle. Could this exception for RM be because of
        his political affiliation with the Green Party then?

  • holly

    YES!!! Finally!! Good job Mayor Lee!!

  • Ron J

    Cal Real ,

    A bruise on a bicep is a low level of force ???? Take your political blinders off for a minute and admit this guy messed up ! This guy took a oath to protect the people and laws of California, and he has failed ! And by the way he was given his rights, that was the right to plead guilty to a lesser charge so he wasn’t sent to prison …

  • Brent

    How did this man become Sheriff in the first place? Gov’t Code Section 24004.3 sets down very specific qualifications in order to file for election, none of which appear to have been satisfied by Mr. Mirkarimi.

  • Joel

    This bruhaha has less to do with DV, and more to do with witness intimidation, attempted evidence destruction, and a VERY heavy handed attack on the neighbors. Read the op-ed account by the guy who’s wife started this investigation. While I might be able to buy this as a ‘minor’ slip in judgement, I cannot in any way ignore the fact that this guy was playing dirty and throwing lawyers at the problem from the starting line. This was a very blatant example of abuse of power. Apparently the evidence that the judge allowed was strong enough that he plead. Usually these guys bank on getting the case thrown out on technicalities. Now he is hoping everyone forgives and forgets. Glad Ed is taking control!

  • oldfart

    Finally a Mayor who works for the people, keep this up and you will get my vote next elections. Newsom and Willy hope you learned a lesson,

  • Roger Craig

    It is about time we get rid of crooked or lawless officials. Lets hope the mayor can really work with the people and get this city off the corporate sleazy gravy train and stop giving the city away…..

  • Jerry

    No doubt about it, he is a political hack that took the job of Sheriff only after he was termed out as a Supervisor. His law enforcement experience could fit in a thimble and have room left over.

    What a great move by the Mayor, now the Ethics Committee and Board will have to act. If they protect one of their own, the election in November should be very interesting to say the least!

    Bring back the San Francisco we all grew up with and get rid of the ultra-progressives that have damaged this City for much too long.

  • Disgusted


    • andrew

      I agree with disgusted

  • JoeB

    This should be very interesting if it laands in the lap of the Board of Supes

  • JoeB

    This should be very interesting if it lands in the lap of the Board of Supes

  • William

    A mayor who’s a liar talking about ethics. What a joke San Francisco is. This whole thing was a politically motivated.

  • fenchel2c

    Mayor Lee is totally off-base in asking that the sherrif resign. He has been thru the curt process and pleaded guilty to a misdomeaner charge. As such, he has fullfilled his obligation and Mayor Lee has no reason, other than politica, to go after him.

  • Nick

    SHAME OF THIS MAN. He admitted to a crime and do not want to lose millions in campaign money for this position. Just like his nationality…DIRTY and EVEN THOUGH IT IS WRONG…THIS STILL SAY THERE ARE RIGHT

    • Nick

      One more comment….

      Ed Jew and the district attorney better do something soon before more people will get affected by this violent man and case. He probably will buy the votes to keep his spot. We, SF CITIZENS cannot afford to hire a violent man to serve as SFPD Chief and holding a gun.

    • Nick

      CORRECTION One more comment….

      Ed Lee (not Ed Jew) and the district attorney better do something soon before more people will get affected by this violent man and case. He probably will buy the votes to keep his spot. We, SF CITIZENS cannot afford to hire a violent man to serve as SFPD Chief and holding a gun.

    • Tom101010

      I agree with you, but pointing something out, you said “SFPD Chief” below. Mirkarimi isnt a police chief, he is the sheriff, big difference.

  • TheEnd


  • Cal Real

    Ross has taken responsibility already for this circus , and now for the mayor
    to suspend him over this, exposes an agenda of corruption by
    an entrenched and established power structure in SF jails. They are using his poor family and an unfortunate new years argument to nullify an election
    result and avoid the much needed scrutiny and light a non law enforcement
    sheriff will bring to SF. Fight on Ross !

  • Joe Blow

    The Mayor is correct….he’s violent he has to go…

  • Ron

    Yes, and Channel 5 reports the opinion editorial (aka oped) from the husband of the woman who took this video on an unethical basis (as in misrepresenting her capacity as a lawyer, which she is not) as a “factual” news report this morning? The reported, supposed harassment and intimidation of a witness was that the attorney for the accused demanded that the video should be treated as attorney-client privileged since the woman misrepresented her status as a lawyer. Which, by the way, is also a criminal in California (practicing law without a license). KCBS5 should be ashamed, and a formal retraction is appropriate. I know ethical journalism went the way of the dinosaurs decades ago, but at least make an effor to distinguish editorial opinion from fact.

  • JRocker

    Instead of installing the #2 vote getter for the office of sheriff, ed selects a female a politically correct appointment, do you think rose pak whispered in his ear.

    • tn

      I’m not sure if there was a “Vice-Sheriff” of San Francisco. And, I’m not sure it’s normal to give the #2 vote-getter the option to fulfill the vacated position, otherwise, you’d end up with something like Mayor Jean Quan…. be careful what you wish for.

  • barry eisenberg

    Dishonorable Mayor

    Apparently, according to news reports, you are going the disastrous route I tried to warn you against. You are a bigger fool than I thought. I believed that someone with as much local government experience as you would see the things that have actually transpired here for what they are and would not continue the agony for all of us by suspending and trying to remove the sheriff. I guess the old saying “Good enough for government work” applies to you and to your intelligence and character. You gave in to the rabid dogs, showed you’re a “real man” capable of real action (to please your friends)… Go ahead and justify it all you want, we know where you’re coming from. You’re nothing but a tool of the Brown/Pak/Chronicle axis, just as was claimed in the campaign.You will not succeed in forcing Ross from office. You will rue this, Ed Lee, and you’re a total fool if you think otherwise.

    Barry Eisenberg


      Barry, Barry, Barry,

      You can run but you can’t hide and boy you surely go around insulting everyone in our city and you don’t even live here.

      We love Ed Lee, we’ll re-elect him again in 2015 and he has the capacity to go much further. Lets give him credit, he treasures his wife.

  • StubbeD

    Women have a tendency to project their anger about what a man did to them onto the nearest male target that represents the person who hurt them. It will come as quite a shock to them to find that removing Ross Mirkarimi from office still doesn’t make them whole. But I suppose that removing him from his job and making sure he can’t care for his wife and children serves the greater, purpose, too. Closure. Isn’t it glorious.

    Because this is an Internet Argument, I declare you the winner for posting a response telling me that deeper principles are involved here (blah blah blah Public Trust) and that I’m a big meanie poopyhead jerk.

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