Despite a 10-month public ordeal and the expenditure of $1.3 million in city legal resources to pursue his ouster, San Francisco’s restored Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi began to reassume his post Tuesday amid palpable tension at City Hall.
In March, Mayor Ed Lee began seeking the elected sheriff’s removal following a domestic violence scuffle in which Mirkarimi admitted to grabbing his wife’s arm hard enough to bruise it.
One day after Mirkarimi mustered four votes on the Board of Supervisors for his reinstatement, he announced his intention to lead the Sheriff’s Department with “a rare knowledge and perspective that few do” about the “shame” of being a criminal. Lee needed nine votes to uphold Mirkarimi’s removal, but only seven supervisors agreed with the mayor’s contention that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct.
Following his exoneration, Mirkarimi expects to receive back pay of more than $100,000 — about six months’ worth of his annual $208,403 salary, which was revoked when Lee suspended the sheriff without pay March 20.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey said Mirkarimi will officially retake office Monday, and that the department’s normal duties of County Jail oversight are proceeding smoothly.
“People are just going on with their jobs,” Fahey said.
Meanwhile, District Attorney George Gascón said Mirkarimi should recuse himself from involvement in all domestic violence matters the Sheriff’s Department oversees since he has more than two years remaining on his probation for misdemeanor false imprisonment.
“Ross Mirkarimi is on probation in this county for a crime of domestic violence,” Gascón said. “He is, at a minimum, incapable of adequately performing the functions of his office that relate to crimes of domestic violence.”
Gascón warned that he would consider legal action against Mirkarimi should he decide not to recuse himself from such matters.
Questioned by reporters Wednesday, Mirkarimi appeared defiant but not completely opposed to the idea. “I am elected in my own right, and we will deal with that as it appears,” Mirkarimi said.
Although the Sheriff’s Department does not conduct domestic violence investigations, deputies oversee inmates convicted of battery and help to administer recovery programs for such behavior.
Asked how he would work with domestic violence victim advocates in the future, Mirkarimi echoed statements he made Tuesday about mending fences with the mayor and others who fought for his ouster.
Staff writers Mike Aldax and Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report