Public pressure is mounting on Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to step down from his post as he faces allegations that he abused his wife.
A group of women who deal with domestic violence victims gathered outside City Hall on Thursday afternoon to call on Mirkarimi — who was sworn in as sheriff Sunday — to resign or at least step down until the matter is settled.
Mirkarimi is facing possible domestic violence charges for an incident on New Year’s Eve in which he allegedly grabbed his wife’s arm hard enough to leave a bruise. The District Attorney’s Office is expected to announce whether it will prosecute Mirkarimi as early as today.
While no charges against Mirkarimi have been filed, the sheriff’s critics at Thursday’s news conference said the allegations against him and his recent public comments have sent the wrong message.
“In the wake of allegations of spousal abuse and Mirkarimi’s ridiculous assertion that spousal abuse is ‘a private family matter,’ we are calling on him to step aside,” said Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, the group that organized Thursday’s news conference.
Before the news conference got started, sheriff’s deputies working for Mirkarimi confronted organizers about whether they had a permit to hold an event on the front steps of City Hall. Although the group did not, deputies ultimately let them proceed from the lower steps near the sidewalk.
Mayor Ed Lee said he is exploring his options on how to deal with Mirkarimi should the sheriff be criminally charged. Under the City Charter, a mayor can suspend and initiate removal proceedings of elected officials for “official misconduct.” It is unclear whether an arrest on felony or misdemeanor domestic violence charges would constitute “official misconduct.” Mirkarimi could step aside voluntarily and select his interim replacement.
Lee said while it’s “very tempting” for him to answer questions about the circumstances, he will refrain from commenting until he hears more from the district attorney.
“I think everyone is anxious to hear what the DA has to say,” Lee said.
Following Thursday’s rally, reporters headed up to the Sheriff’s Office on the fourth floor of City Hall to request comment. A spokeswoman said Mirkarimi had no comment and referred questions to his attorney.
Mirkarimi’s attorney, Robert Waggener, has called the evidence “flimsy,” but allowed for the possibility of misdemeanor charges being filed.
SF Examiner Staff Writer Dan Schreiber contributed to this report.
The rally outside City Hall calling on Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to step down amid allegations of domestic violence had an unexpected person on the sidelines — Mirkarimi’s wife.
Eliana Lopez raised a lot of questions when she was spotted on the steps of City Hall observing a group of women criticizing her husband for allegedly abusing her during an incident on New Year’s Eve.
Attorneys representing Mirkarimi and his wife said Lopez was on her way to City Hall to see her husband and stopped on the steps to observe the gathering. She had no idea it was a group of women who were calling for Mirkarimi to step aside, they said.
“She certainly wasn’t with that group,” said Cheryl Wallace, Lopez’s attorney. Wallace said Lopez “is not a victim of domestic violence” and that she is a strong and educated woman “capable of taking care of herself.”
After being spotted at the rally, Lopez was photographed by The San Francisco Examiner walking hand-in-hand with her husband down the hallway of City Hall’s fourth floor, where the Sheriff’s Office is located.