After meeting with Mayor Ed Lee on Tuesday, Ross Mirkarimi indicated he would not step aside as sheriff while he faces criminal charges stemming from a domestic dispute with his wife on New Year’s Eve.
The sheriff, who has been charged with three misdemeanors including domestic violence battery, met with Lee to discuss whether the Sheriff’s Department can run smoothly despite the frenzy surrounding the case.
In recent days, the mayor has expressed concerns that the scandal has presented serious distractions to running the department, but Mirkarimi said that’s not the case.
Mirkarimi, however, said he would take unpaid time off during days he’s scheduled to appear in court. Mirkarimi has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.
Mirkarimi said the mayor was “cordial” and “respectful” and talked about a “range of issues.” Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Lee, said the mayor asked Mirkarimi if he’d think about taking a leave.
“The mayor will continue to monitor the situation and make sure the Sheriff’s Department can perform its duties,” Falvey said.
On Jan. 1, Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, tearfully told a neighbor that her husband had hurt her and left a bruise on her arm during an argument the day before. The neighbor later reported the incident to police, who arrested Mirkarimi just five days after the newly elected sheriff’s Jan. 8 inauguration.
Lopez has since publicly defended her husband and said the incident was “taken out of context.”
This past weekend, another woman told police Mirkarimi was prone to fits of rage and grabbed and bruised her arm on one occasion while they dated in 2008, according to a law enforcement source. Although the statute of limitations has run out for any charges to be filed as a result of that incident, the woman — Christina Flores — could potentially testify as a character witness in the case involving Mirkarimi’s wife.
Bob Waggener, Mirkarimi’s attorney, said Tuesday there is “no doubt about it” that prosecutors will ask Flores to testify.
“They did have a relationship. It ended poorly,” Waggener said. “He denies any abuse in the course of the relationship.”
Mirkarimi is set to appear again in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday to ask a judge to lift a stay-away order that prevents him from going near his wife and 2-year-old child. The trial is scheduled to start Feb. 24.