San Francisco sheriff reinstated despite domestic violence conviction
The city’s Board of Supervisors voted to reinstate Ross
Mirkarimi, 51, even though he was sentenced in March to three
years' probation. In order for him to lose his position, nine of 11
board members would have had to vote for his ouster. Mayor Edwin M.
Lee had initially suspended Mirkarimi, arguing that working with
him would be difficult, and emphasizing the need to keep him out of
“The facts clearly demonstrate that Ross Mirkarimi’s actions and his domestic violence-related conviction falls below the ethical conduct we expect of our elected sheriff, and constitutes official misconduct,” Lee said in a statement after the vote. “The Board’s decision returns a convicted domestic batterer to lead the Sheriff’s Office.”
Mirkarimi received four votes in his favor, allowing him to
return to his position.The sheriff’s supporters argued that
domestic violence is not considered official misconduct.
Mirkarimi’s lawyers also maintained that the domestic violence
occurred before the sheriff was sworn into office.
“The system worked in this case,” the reinstated
sheriff told Reuters. “It took a long way to get here. The next
step is mending fences and moving forward.”
In January, Mirkarimi had been charged with battery, child
endangerment and dissuading a witness. The charges resulted from a
fight with his wife that left her crying and bruised. Eliana Lopez,
Mirkarimi's Venezuelan actress wife, was seen showing her blackened
arm in a cell phone video filmed by a neighbor. The charges came
five days after the sheriff was publicly sworn into office.
Even though Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to acting violently against
his wife, he gained a significant number of supporters within his
community. During negotiations, speakers called Mirkarimi the
“voice of the voiceless” in the community.
“Ross is the jewel in the crown of San Francisco,"
76-year-old Ursula McGuire told Reuters. “I want you to
reinstate the jewel.”
But advocates against domestic violence believe reinstating the sheriff would spread a negative message within the community.
“If reinstated, Ross Mirkarimi would represent San
Francisco’s tolerance of domestic violence crimes,” said
Katharine Berg, associate director of La Casa de las Madres, a
Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic
Violence Consortium, said that the board’s decision had harmed the
anti-domestic violence movement.
“Clearly we have more work to do,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.