By Kat Anderson
March 19, 2012
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in a press conference today following Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s sentencing for misdemeanor false imprisonment, affirmed his belief in the power of redemption and restorative justice and expressed his satisfaction that the terms of Mirkarimi’s probation show that justice has been served, and that Mirkarimi is sincerely sorry for what he did.
Gascón said he recognized that there are those who wanted him to “go for the jugular” and keep the trial going; others felt that the prosecution of Mirkarimi was a political vendetta. Gascón concluded that since “ideologues on both sides” may be disappointed in the plea agreement, “This gives me comfort and reassurance that I have not politicized the case and that I have done my absolute best to treat it like any another domestic violence allegation.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mirkarimi was sentenced to 3 years probation, 100 hours community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, a $400 domestic violence fine along with standard court fines and fees. He was ordered to attend parenting or family counseling. Mirkarimi waived all future appellate rights. The stay away order remains in effect until modified in Family Court. Mirkarimi may be able to regain use of his gun following successful completion of the terms of his probation.
Gascón thanked and honored Ivory Madison and Callie Williams, Mirkarimi’s neighbors, whose statements, he said, were instrumental in building a case against Mirkarimi. Gascón said, “These two women, who were neighbors and friends of Ms. L (Eliana Lopez), acted with great courage. Ms. Madison found herself in a difficult situation trying to protect a friend who was in danger.”
Gascón recounted that Ms. Madison was vilified for reporting her concerns about Eliana Lopez’s safety following conversations she had with Lopez about alleged abuse Lopez suffered at the hands of Mirkarimi on New Year’s Eve. Gascón commented, “I find this shameful. People in our community should be applauded for stepping forward to help a fellow San Franciscan. We, particularly those of us in law enforcement, need to encourage the community to help us when they see or learn of a crime.”
Gascón would not explain the legal strategy behind the new false imprisonment charge that popped up after jury selection began, but he defended it as a domestic violence charge. “Let’s wipe the slate clean on that,” he said. “False imprisonment is a domestic violence charge and it is not a lesser charge.”
It was also revealed during the press conference that the controversial videotape that depicts Lopez displaying a bruise on her arm and crying will not become available to the public. Because it was never offered as trial evidence, it remains confidential, attorney work product. The District Attorney is bound by law to protect that confidentiality.
Ms. Lopez is expected to provide a full public statement tomorrow, Mirkarimi’s defense attorney, Lidia Stiglich, said.