Authorities waited 22 minutes to clear Mayor Ed Lee from City Hall after bomb threat 

click to enlarge An accusation that Mayor Ed Lee perjured himself moments before his testimony was interrupted has stoked speculation that there was no bomb threat or that such a threat was conveniently seized upon to help the mayor. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • An accusation that Mayor Ed Lee perjured himself moments before his testimony was interrupted has stoked speculation that there was no bomb threat or that such a threat was conveniently seized upon to help the mayor.

Few details have emerged yet about why San Francisco police abruptly interrupted Mayor Ed Lee’s testimony and temporarily suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s official misconduct proceedings on June 29.

Law enforcement agencies have declined to discuss details about the City Hall bomb threat, which no other occupants of the building were warned about. But information obtained through a public records request shows that 22 minutes elapsed between when the call was received and Lee’s removal.

Records show that the call came in at almost exactly the same time that Lee began to testify in the official misconduct proceedings against the sheriff, whom the mayor suspended in March after Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment of his wife.

Lee’s testimony would later lead to two separate allegations that he committed perjury.

Cross-examination of Lee by Mirkarimi’s attorney Shepard Kopp was interrupted at 1:28 p.m. when Lee was whisked away and the meeting adjourned with no reason provided. That was 22 minutes after the Department of Emergency Management recorded the call, according to an agency document. Lee’s testimony started about 20 minutes before the interruption.

The 1:06 p.m. high-priority call was entered by the department as a bomb threat to the City Hall area. The record shows that a unit from the Northern Police Station, about one mile away from City Hall, responded. The emergency response was considered officially closed at 2:37 p.m., and the hearing resumed at 3:01 p.m., with Lee retaking the stand.

The Mayor’s Office has declined to comment on the incident, referring all questions to the Police Department, which is responsible for the mayor’s security.

“I’m not going to speculate as to why it took 22 minutes,” Officer Albie Esparza said Friday, adding that the department does not speak about the mayor’s security detail. Both police and the Department of Emergency Management have refused to release additional information about the incident, which they say remains under
investigation.

An accusation that Lee perjured himself moments before his testimony was interrupted has stoked speculation that there was no bomb threat or that such a threat was conveniently seized upon to help the mayor.

A few days after the hearing, the SF Civic Center blog said that “the timing of the announcement was more than a little suspicious since Mayor Lee was ten minutes into a grilling under oath by lawyer Shepard Kopp at an Ethics Commission hearing on the fourth floor.”

At the time, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey said the threat was not related to the Mirkarimi proceedings.

Days after the incident, Supervisor John Avalos was asked what he thought about the bomb threat response.

“I’m scratching my head,” Avalos said.

He is not alone.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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