Sheriff-elect Mirkarimi in 'awkward' situation for swearing in 

Ross Mirkarimi - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Ross Mirkarimi

A dark cloud will hang over the celebration of San Francisco’s new sheriff Sunday, as the man elected to the post, Ross Mirkarimi, has been accused of domestic violence against his wife, Eliana Lopez.

A search warrant affidavit obtained by The San Francisco Examiner on Friday says that a neighbor of Mirkarimi videotaped a bruise on Lopez’s arm and had a text message conversation with her about the alleged abuse on New Year’s Eve. The neighbor called authorities but then declined to hand over the video camera and phone containing the text messages, prompting police to serve a warrant at the neighbor’s home and seize the evidence Wednesday evening, according to the warrant.

Police completed an investigation of the incident Friday and forwarded the case to the District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to file charges against Mirkarimi.

The accusations could not come at a worse time for the outgoing supervisor, who was inaugurated a private ceremony Saturday night and will participate in a public swearing-in ceremony today at 2 p.m. after winning the sheriff’s race in November. His term of office officially begins Sunday at noon.

“It creates a very awkward situation,” said Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard, the former press secretary of Mayor Gavin Newsom. “These allegations have stolen the thunder from what should be a celebration.”

Mirkarimi could not be reached for comment for this story. The outgoing Sheriff Michael Hennessey would only say, “I don’t know anything about it,” when asked about the situation. Hennessey endorsed Mirkarimi to succeed him as San Francisco’s first new sheriff in more than 30 years.

Political consultant Jim Stearns — who ran Mirkarimi’s campaign — said Saturday that the inauguration was “going forward as planned.” Stearns released a statement Thursday night from Lopez, who said she had “absolutely no complaint against my husband. My husband has never been abusive to me.”

Stearns declined to say whether the allegations will put a damper on what would otherwise be a happy occasion.

“I don’t have any comment on that,” Stearns said.

Mirkarimi was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2004 to serve District 5, which includes the Western Addition and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods. Mirkarimi and his wife, who met in South America and live together in the Western Addition, had their first and only child together in 2009.

If Mirkarimi were convicted of a felony for domestic violence charges, both state code and the City Charter would bar him from serving as sheriff.

Mayor Ed Lee is moving forward on naming a replacement for Mirkarimi’s District 5 supervisor post, although an appointment cannot be officially made until the seat is vacated, according to the Mayor’s Office. Lee said Friday that he plans to name Mirkarimi’s successor by Monday.

The mayor declined to go into detail about the allegations and said he wasn’t privy to any inside information about the incident.

“It’s an investigation, and as an attorney, I am going to respect the process that we have,” Lee said. “It’s a domestic issue that has to get investigated properly by all the authorities involved.”

Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report.

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