After a brief and "cordial" meeting with Mayor Ed Lee today, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told reporters that he absolutely refuses to step aside amid allegations that he physically abused his wife during a New Year's Eve dispute.
The mayor -- who has the authority to suspend the sheriff -- met with Mirkarimi behind closed doors this afternoon, hoping he could cajole the sheriff into taking a leave of absence while fighting criminal charges that include battery, endangering a child, and dissuading a witness.
But just as strongly as Mirkarimi insists he is innocent, he also insists he can effectively run his office. "I will make sure, as I have been doing, (to) attend to the needs of the
department," Mirkarimi told reporters after leaving the mayor's office.
Mirkarimi -- whose trial begins Feb. 24 -- appeared in court last week where he pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges. A judge issued a stay away order, barring the sheriff from seeing his wife, Eliana Lopez, and his 2-year-old son until the trial is over. He was also forced to turn his guns over to the San Francisco Police Department. Mirkarimi's situation grew even more troublesome yesterday when news broke that his former girlfriend went to police, claiming he had pinned her against a wall and bruised her arms in a rage one night.
As we pointed out in an earlier post, the grounds on which the mayor could actually suspend Mirkarimi are rather muddy. What is clear is that serving as sheriff while being tried for criminal charges is a recipe for some less-than-comfortable work situations.
As one City Hall source told SF Weekly, there's no doubt, as the sheriff, Mirkarimi will cross paths with officials from both the San Francisco Police Department -- the agency that investigated him -- and the District Attorney -- the office that's prosecuting him.
"It makes the whole thing odd," our source told us.