San Francisco sheriff gets 1 day in jail, probation in spouse-abuse case

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 19, 2012 8:53 PM
San Francisco sheriff gets 1 day in jail, probation in spouse-abuse case

By Laird Harrison

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who pleaded guilty last week to falsely imprisoning his wife, was sentenced on Monday to one day in jail and three years probation, making a tearful apology outside of court.

Mirkarimi, who was sentenced as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that allows him to keep his post and his gun, was also ordered to undergo domestic counseling and perform 100 hours of community service.

The sheriff has already served his single day in jail.

"I deeply and humbly apologize for my behavior and the pain that it has caused. It should not have happened. There's no excuse for it and I accept full responsibility," Mirkarimi said outside of court, wiping away tears.

Mirkarimi, 50, was originally charged with misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in a case that has stirred a local political uproar in the San Francisco Bay area.

In a press conference following the sentencing, District Attorney George Gascon said his office's willingness to strike a plea bargain proved the prosecution was not politically motivated.

"I think it's almost laughable that some people took some disagreements between me and Mr. Mirkarimi and tried to spin it into a political vendetta," he said. Anti-domestic violence activists, meanwhile, were still calling on Mayor Ed Lee to suspend Mirkarimi, launching a process that could lead to his ouster.

"I do not believe he should remain in office," said Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, who attended the press conference at Gascon's invitation.

"I don't think a few minutes of comments carries any weight. It's too little too late," she said Lee said last week he was reviewing the law and the facts in the case before deciding how to act.

A co-founder of the California Green Party and a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mirkarimi was charged on January 13, five days after he was sworn in as the city's first new sheriff in three decades.

The case grew out of a New Year's Eve argument between Mirkarimi and Lopez, 36, who were fighting over her plans to take their 2-year-old son, Theo, on a trip to her home country.

Lopez claimed in a videotape shot by her neighbor the day after the incident that Mirkarimi had grabbed Lopez with such force that he left a bruise on her arm.

Lopez later said she did not wish to press charges and sought, unsuccessfully, to keep the video clip from being admitted as evidence.

Mirkarimi's guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of restraint on liberty came as jury selection was set to resume in his trial.

In addition to presenting the videotape as evidence, prosecutors were expected to call a former girlfriend, Christina Flores, who has claimed that Mirkarimi bruised her arm in a similar way during a quarrel several years ago.

(Reporting by Laird Harrison; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Paul Thomasch)