Ross Mirkarimi Awaits Suspension

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee moves to suspend Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi after Mirkarimi refuses to step down.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said today he will not resign from his post despite facing possible suspension by Mayor Ed Lee following Mirkarimi's conviction in a domestic violence case involving his wife.

    Update:  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is expected to officially suspend Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office at some point today. We have a reporter outside the sheriff's office inside City Hall and will update the story throughout the day.

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    City Hall Showdown in San Francisco

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    San Francisco's Mayor issued a stern warning: step down or else. But Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is refusing to leave his post, even after pleading guilty to falsely imprisoning his wife during a domestic dispute on New Year's Eve. The Mayor is taking action. NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang reports from San Francisco.

    San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he's deeply sorry to the people of San Francisco and any embarrassment he caused to City Hall, but he will not resign from office.

    Mirkarimi announced at the end of the business day Tuesday that he had informed San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee that he is still very able to be sheriff.

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    "I do not believe the conduct constitutes official misconduct" and says he looks forward to making his case to ethics commission.

    Mayor Ed Lee gave Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi until 4 p.m. Tuesdsay to resign or he said he would suspend him. 

    During a 5 p.m. press conference Lee did just that.

    Under the city charter, the mayor can suspend the sheriff for official misconduct.

    “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 Mayor Lee.

    “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." he added.

    Lee said he has asked the city attorney to prepare documents to suspend the sheriff and said they should be ready by Wednesday. The issue will now move to the city's Ethics Commission, which would then make a recommendation to the Board of  Supervisors. At least nine of 11 supervisors would then need to approve the charges for Mirkarimi to be ousted from office.

    Lee reportedly gave Mirkarimi an ultimatum to resign or be suspended during a meeting in the mayor's office Monday afternoon. Mirkarimi said he told the mayor Tuesday he would not step down. He said the mayor was respectful and collegial when he heard his decision.

    Lee said he will appoint Vicki Hennessy to be the new sheriff of San Francisco. Hennessy was at the 5 p.m. press conference and said she will return to public service after serving as Department of Emergency Management director.

    "I am appointing law enforcement veteran Vicki Hennessy as the Sheriff. With her nearly 35 years of experience, I have no doubt that she will get the job done, lead the Sheriff’s Department and support the good work of our Sheriff’s staff and deputies," Lee said.

    Hennessy has worked in nearly every division of the Sheriff’s Department including Captain of the old San Bruno jail, City prison, the high security jail at the Hall of Justice, according to the mayor.

    During the news conference 30 minutes early and two floors up in City Hall, the current sheriff said he recognizes that he has a temper and that he has anger and arrogance issues. 

    Mirkarimi was sentenced Monday morning a domestic violence charge. The sentencing put an end to the legal portion of the high profile case, but clearly the political fallout is still ahead.

    Mirkarimi said although the sheriff's department is in "uncharted waters" he is confident with his command staff, the undersheriff and the assistant sheriff. He said his department is running "right and well."

    Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, 100 hours of community service and a small fine for one misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in a New Year's Eve incident that left his wife Eliana Lopez with a bruise on her arm.

    Lopez canceled a planned news conference Tuesday. Her lawyer said she was upset over her an op-ed piece in The San Francisco Chronicle written by her next door neighbor Abraham Mertens. In it Mertens makes a case for Mirkarimi to resign immediately.

    In the past, Lopez has denied accusations of misconduct by her husband.

    Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment in exchange for dropping three other misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.
     
    The plea deal was struck as a jury was picked for a trial that promised to embarrass the sheriff with testimony about infidelity, his temper and other intimate details.
     
     San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said the false imprisonment charge was a domestic violence plea and the conviction was just as serious as the charges that were dropped.
     
    Gascon said Mirkarimi will be barred from carrying a gun until a judge lifts a stay-away order still in place that prevents the sheriff from seeing his wife without court permission. Gascon said that order could stay in place for the entire three years of probation.
     
    Mirkarimi also said he was undergoing counseling to address "my arrogance and anger management issues'' and reiterated his advocacy against domestic violence while serving two-terms on the Board of Supervisors.