SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) — San Francisco’s newly sworn-in sheriff was charged with three misdemeanor crimes, including battery, stemming from a New Year’s Eve domestic dispute with his wife, prosecutors announced late Friday.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi faced one count each of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness, according to District Attorney George Gascon.

“Whether this was the elected sheriff or any other San Francisco resident,” Gascon said, “this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal and will be prosecuted. We are treating this case as we would any of the hundreds of domestic violence cases we review and charge each year.”

The case against Mirkarimi stemmed from an incident in which he allegedly grabbed and bruised wife Eliana Lopez’s arm during a heated argument at their home, according to a police affidavit. Investigators also seized a video camera that reportedly recorded the injury and an iPhone used to exchange text messages about the injury.

“We have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges that are being presented,” Gascon said, but he refused to elaborate on the evidence.

Minutes after Gascon announced the filing of charges, Mirkarimi – with Lopez alongside – appeared briefly before reporters outside the sheriff’s office at San Francisco City Hall and proclaimed his innocence: “I believe these charges are very unfounded. We will fight these charges.”

The couple, who married after having their son in 2009, have repeatedly denied the allegations and contended the incident was “completely taken out of context” when it was reported to the SFPD by a neighbor.

“This is unbelievable, I don’t have any complaints against my husband,” reiterated Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star, who authorities said had not cooperated with the D.A’s probe into the case.

A CBS 5 poll conducted just a day prior to the D.A.’s announcement found an overwhelming majority of San Francisco residents believed the embattled Mirkarimi should resign or step aside if he faced criminal charges.

But Mirkarimi made it clear Friday that he would not step down from his post, saying, “I have no intention of leaving.”

The D.A. said an arrest warrant was issued for Mirkarimi, who later appeared at the Hall Of Justice to be booked on the charges and have his mugshot and fingerprints taken.

“I will of course be booked,” Mirkarimi told the gaggle of reporters outside his office before turning himself in. “I’m not above the law like anyone else.”

The bail associated with the charges was $35,000, according to the D.A.’s office, which said Mirkarimi would likely be arraigned in court on Tuesday.

Gascon indicated he was also concerned about “the safety of Ms. Lopez and her child” and sought an emergency restraining order that would prohibit Mirkarimi from returning to his Webster Street home or from having contact with his wife and son. It was not immediately clear if a judge had upheld that request.

The D.A. said the seeking of the protective order, which was an unexpected development in the case, was necessary because prosecutors “heard that there have been other incidents” of possible domestic violence involving Mirkarimi and Lopez and police needed time to investigate those claims.

If Mirkarimi is convicted of the current charges against him, he could face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and three years’ probation in addition to being required to undergo counseling. He would further be barred from carrying a gun, even if he avoided jail time and remained sheriff.

KCBS & CBS 5’s Phil Matier Reports:

Also upon a conviction, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee could opt to initiate removal procedures against Mirkarimi for official misconduct.

“Under the (city and county) charter he can move to suspend any public official for official misconduct, the next thing that happens is a trial in front of the Ethics Commission,” former San Francisco prosecutor Jim Hammer told KCBS.

The charter gives the commission 30 days to hold a misconduct trial. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors would then sit as jury with a three-quarters vote needed to remove the sheriff from office.

Lee said Friday evening that he would let the criminal justice system take its’ course before making any such decisions.

Mirkarimi, 50, was elected sheriff in November and took office on Sunday after serving seven years on the Board Of Supervisors.

(Copyright 2012 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

Comments (34)
  1. Dam says:

    Lord have mercy on him. He was just kidding around with the wife. What’s up all this bad press. She was OK.

    1. too many question so few answers says:

      How do you know this, are you a close personal friend or is it wishful thinking.

  2. james says:

    The FBI and DEA fabricate evidence, steal from suspects and use murder to close those bad cases.

    Bad Feds where using corrupt police and gang members to commit crimes for them.

    1. FBI / DEA says:

      James- Did you get the message from the little green men who said they were hitting your home tomorrow night when you’re asleep?

    2. Michael Nelson says:

      I think George Gascon should be charged with failure to find someone who can control his hair.

  3. Trudy Sanders says:

    Lord have mercy on the citizens of San Francisco – he needs to go. Like, yesterday.

  4. Tours Martel says:

    Never fear, citizens. Being of the political party that he is means that the worst that will happen is a little embarassment. If he had belonged to Brand X, then he would be in trouble.

  5. Sombra Negra says:

    Tours,, you are absolutely correct,,,nothing will happen to him,,,,,and James, try wrapping your head in tinfoil,, it WILL prevent the FBI, DEA and CIA from reading your thoughts,,,,but careful,, next time you see a white Chevy van ifo your house, it is them.
    Mirkarimi needs to go, like now. Resign or we the people will do it for you!!

  6. jin says:

    My understanding is that if he is convicted of domestic violence he will not be allowed to carry a gun. I also believe there are other sanctions as well.

    If the Mayor calls an electrical malfunction at Candlestick is an embarrassment, then what would he call allegations of Domestic Violence by the Sheriff

    there is a new forum called spam free to discuss with others your views on any subject that pertains to S.F. Oakland, Sacramento or D.C.

    Check it out

    1. lawman says:

      Its all misdemeanor DV (domestic violence) that he is facing so no that is wrong.. The domestic batterie charge is 243 (e) (1). If it was 273.5 (a) (1) he wouldnt be able to because thats a felony. Misdemeanor however does not void ones right to carry a firearm.

      1. Frank says:

        Wrong dude…243PC and all subsections are crimes of violence, and prohibit anyone convicted of such cannot carry a gun. Would you like the PC sections that deal with that.
        A cop of 33 years.
        Thank you.

  7. Shut up Sheron you old dog says:

    Everything that comes out of your mouth is like poop.

  8. oguz kaya says:

    I thinks the media is making a molehill out of a mountain on this.

  9. John L says:

    he should step down

  10. tn says:

    It’s either Mirkarimi doing his Zen “I’m not here” meditation, or a mean trick by the SFPD mug-shot taker telling him, “On a count of 3…” and then snaps the picture on a count of “1.”

  11. dimsoum says:

    It now appears this is not the first incident of Domestic Violence by the sheriff. Perhaps there is more to this story than previously know.

    check out a new forum called that deals with S.F , there is always a new joke of the day.

  12. Paco says:

    Interesting that the wife earlier said that it was a family matter. I guess where she comes from anything besides murder is a family matter.

  13. lee says:

    Corrupt California DEA where stealing drugs from evidence vaults and reselling them to cover extensive credit card debt.
    They also are creating suspects by planting evidence just so that they can steal from them.
    Given the choice of suspension or dealing with their debt most DEA are thinking outside the box.

  14. Harry Martin says:

    The problem of domestic violence is very serious (against both sexes, even if reporting is biased for women). However I have to ask, what happened to innocent until proven guilty, or due process? Isn’t the restraining order separating him from his family premature and again jumping to judgement? It makes one wonder how much if this guy is such a minster where have been the prior complaints and PR? It smells of over ripe politics to me.

  15. Ann Mason says:

    The Sheriff should not be forced to resign now. However, he should take a leave of absence until the legal case is resolved. If he is convicted, then he should resign.

  16. Olden Atwoody says:

    It was just rough sex. Have you seen her? I’d llike to bruise her arms, too!

    She LIKES it, right, Ross?

  17. harrymudd says:

    It is shocking this many people are willing to convict before knowing the facts. It is possible that his wife lied to the neighbor. Then realized what she was getting into and is now backing off. Why should the assumption be that she is lying now?

    His past partner Evelyn Nieves says and I quote “…never once did he even come close to being physical during an argument.”