In advance of an Ethics Commission hearing this evening that could decide the fate of his job, suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi slammed those who are seeking to have him removed from office.
Mirkarimi made a brief appearance in San Francisco Superior Court this morning for a probation progress report following his misdemeanor false imprisonment conviction in March.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to the charge, which stemmed from an incident on Dec. 31 in which he grabbed and bruised his wife’s arm during an argument. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and other penalties.
Mayor Ed Lee then suspended him without pay on official misconduct charges, putting in motion a series of Ethics Commission hearings, including one at City Hall at 5 p.m. today, at which the suspended sheriff will defend himself against the charges.
Speaking to reporters after this morning’s court hearing, Mirkarimi criticized the city officials who are bringing the charges against him.
“What they’re doing is throwing whatever they can against the wall,” he said. “They’re piling on an immense amount of smear.”
The mayor and other city officials have “gone so far down, there’s no pulling back,” he said. “I’ve taken responsibility for what’s occurred with my wife and I … that doesn’t disqualify me from being sheriff.”
Mirkarimi said he is prepared to give live testimony at this evening’s hearing but is not sure whether he will be called on to do so.
“I’m anticipating so and prepared accordingly,” he said. “We’re just bracing ourselves to deal with the process as it unfolds.”
The commission will eventually make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on whether to uphold the charges and remove Mirkarimi from office or reinstate him as sheriff.
A recommendation for removal would require the approval of nine of the 11 members of the board. Mirkarimi served as a supervisor for seven years before being elected sheriff last November.
At this morning’s hearing, Mirkarimi’s probation progress report was approved by Judge Garrett Wong, who ordered him to return on Sept. 28 for another progress report.
Mirkarimi said outside of court that he was “a good student,” having participated in about a dozen court-ordered counseling classes and served hours of community service working with juvenile offenders.
In the wake of Mirkarimi’s conviction and suspension, his wife, Eliana Lopez, took the couple’s young son to her native Venezuela where she remains and is caring for her ill father.
Mirkarimi said that after the administrative proceedings wrap up, he is anticipating taking a trip there to visit his son.
“I’m crushed without the ability to hold and be with my son,” he said.”
Mirkarimi is still barred from contact with his wife except to set up daily video chats between him and his son.
“It’s every day by Skype,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going.”
This evening’s Ethics Commission hearing will be followed by two more on June 28 and 29, after which the commission could make its recommendation to the supervisors.
Mirkarimi said he is “glad for the culmination of this process … who wouldn’t be?”
Vicki Hennessy, a former chief deputy with the sheriff’s department, is serving as interim sheriff while Mirkarimi’s case moves forward.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News