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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mayor Ed Lee Suspends Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Files Misconduct Charges

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Mayor Ed Lee officially charged Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi with misconduct today, stating the elected official's conduct "is fundamentally incompatible with holding the Office of Sheriff."

Lee  took a kitchen sink approach with the charges, rattling off several ways in which Mirkarimi's actions around a December 31 domestic dispute with his wife, Eliana Lopez, are related to the duties of his job.

The charges come two days after Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to false imprisonment stemming from the dispute in which he allegedly bruised his wife's arm. In return for the plea, District Attorney George Gascón dropped three other charges, including battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness.

Shortly after Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years probation, Lee sat down with the sheriff, giving him the option of resigning or being fired. Yesterday Mirkarimi announced that he would not resign, claiming he was still an elected official capable of doing his job. In return, Lee announced that he would suspend Mirkarimi and file the misconduct charges -- the first steps toward permanently ousting the sheriff.

Mirkarimi has argued that the official misconduct charges are not applicable, saying that under the City Charter, the misconduct must be related to the duties of his office.

Lee stated that Mirkarimi misused the authority of his office "when he stated to Ms. Lopez that he could win custody of their child because he was very powerful." In addition to that, Lee asserted that Mirkarimi's conduct was related to his position as sheriff, the county's top law enforcer, because he is in charge of holding convicted criminals -- like himself -- accountable.

Here are some of Lee's main points:

  • Mirkarimi oversees jails; Mirkarimi was in jail for a day.
  • He oversees people on probation; he is serving three years probation
  • He is responsible for enforcing domestic violence order; he was convicted of a domestic violence charge.
  • He runs the jails; he falsely imprisoned his wife.
  • He is allowed the power of force; he used illicit force against his wife.
  • He is the chief elected law enforcement officer of San Francisco; he allegedly dissuaded witnesses from talking to the police.

Lee also noted that the charter doesn't necessarily state there needs to be a direct connection between misconduct and duty.

Quoting a section of the charter, Lee argued that "'conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all police officers' is official misconduct, regardless of whether there is a direct nexus between the conduct and the specific duties of the officer."

The city delivered the charges to David Waggoner, Mirkarimi's third lawyer since his arrest in January.

With the official misconduct charge filed, the Ethics Commission will now hold a hearing and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors about whether Mirkarimi should be fired. Nine of the 11 supervisors must approve the charges for the mayor the oust Mirkarimi.

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Albert Samaha


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