mirkarimi_defendantsname.jpgSuspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told the city’s Ethics Commission today that he regrets having said in January that a domestic violence incident involving his wife was a private, family matter.

“I made a terrible mistake in saying that. Naturally I completely regret it,” Mirkarimi said under questioning from his attorney, David Waggoner.

Today was the second day of Mirkarimi’s testimony before the commission, which is considering a bid by Mayor Ed Lee to remove him from office on official misconduct charges.

The mayor contends Mirkarimi is not qualified to serve as sheriff because of a Dec. 31 incident in which he grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.

In March, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment and was suspended by Lee after being sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to undergo domestic violence counseling.

Under the city charter, the Ethics Commission is charged with conducting an inquiry and making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors as to whether Mirkarimi should be permanently removed from office.

It would take a vote of nine of 11 supervisors to oust him from his job.

In his first day of testimony Thursday evening, Mirkarimi agreed that he bruised Lopez’s arm and said it was an act of violence that he “regrets terribly.”

Today, both Waggoner and Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith questioned him about a statement at a news conference following his Jan. 8 inauguration in which Mirkarimi said the Dec. 31 incident was “a private matter, a family matter.”

“Is domestic violence a private, family matter?” Keith asked.

“It is not,” Mirkarimi said.

Mirkarimi also acknowledged, in a series of questions from Keith, that he was aware when he made the statement that he had injured his wife and agreed that calling domestic violence a private matter sends a negative message to law enforcement and to victims.

The mayor is expected to testify before the commission later today.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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