By Luke Thomas
Editor’s Note: This report has been updated with an official statement from Mayor Ed Lee.
March 12, 2012
Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pled guilty today to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year’s Eve.
In exchange for Mirkrarimi’s plea agreement, District Attorney George Gascón has dropped three misdemeanor charges of alleged domestic violence, dissuading a witness and child endangerment.
Mirkarimi faces sentencing next Monday that is expected to include up to three years probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, as well as a fine of $590. A stay away order imposed in January remains in effect subject to a Family court order.
“My first priority has always been the safety of Ms. L and her child,” Gascón said in a statement. “Today’s guilty plea clearly reflects the seriousness of the incident and my commitment to prosecuting domestic violence cases.”
“As I have mentioned in the past, an appropriate response to domestic violence is essential if any effect is to be had on those who abuse, those who are abused, and the children who witness abuse. I am confident today’s plea and mandated counseling will help this family,” Gascón added.
The plea agreement, believed to have been hashed out with prosecutors on Sunday, effectively ends a criminal trial that could have led to Mirkarimi being convicted on one or more of the original charges, counts that carried a sentence of up to one year in jail.
Central to the prosecution’s case was a video taken by Lopez’ neighbor, Ivory Madison, on January 1 which shows a bruise on Lopez’ right arm. Mirkarimi’s defense team had sought and failed to exclude the video from evidence.
“This was a resolution that will allow Sheriff Mirkarimi to continue in his position, end this process and more quickly reunite with his family,” said Mirkarimi defense attorney Lidia Stiglich. “He has done his part now to put this matter in the rear view mirror and get back to work and his family.”
Mayor Ed Lee, who has the authority to trigger an Ethics Commission investigation into whether Mirkarimi’s conviction for misdemeanor false imprisonment rises to the standard of official misconduct, released the following statement:
“This clearly remains serious and troubling for our City. The Sheriff, one of our top law enforcement officials, has now pleaded guilty to an unexpected and very serious charge that has introduced a new set of legal issues that must be thoroughly reviewed. I am working with legal counsel to review the facts and determine what options are available to me under the City charter.
“I understand the troubling nature that this guilty plea raises, given the Sheriff’s role in overseeing and incarcerating criminals in our county jails.
“I intend to make a decision based on all of the facts as quickly as possible.”
Kat Anderson contributed to this report.