On the very day that ethics commissioners considered whether to investigate alleged perjury by Mayor Ed Lee, police released bizarre new details surrounding the apparent bomb threat that interrupted the testimony at the heart of the allegations.
According to a police report released Thursday, on June 29 Officer Linda Chen received a 1 p.m. call from someone who said he had placed a bomb in a black backpack near the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge. The caller said he had a six-foot-five Ukrainian accomplice with long brown hair who placed another bomb set to go off at 2 p.m. in a rental car at City Hall, the report said.
View the police report about the bomb threat. Story continues below.
Lee’s sworn comments at the June 29 Ethics Commission hearing into official misconduct charges against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi ultimately led to two separate allegations that he committed perjury. About thirty minutes after the officer answered the call, the mayor was evacuated from the hearing room where he was giving what has since become politically damaging testimony.
The emergency response to the threat has raised questions since no one else in the packed hearing room or elsewhere at City Hall appears to have been informed. Employees, tourists and wedding parties carried on as usual even as Lee was abruptly whisked from the stand by his security detail.
Officers described the caller as a man between the ages of 28 and 35 with “a distinct accent, possibly of Eastern descent.” Because he called a landline at Mission Station and not 911, there is no recording of the call. Chen said she put the call on a speakerphone, allowing Lt. Molly Pengel and Sgt. Jennifer Streegan to listen in.
Police then called the Department of Emergency Management, which entered the emergency into its dispatch system at 1:06 pm, around the time Lee began testifying. Twenty-two minutes later, the mayor was removed from the witness stand. The emergency was closed at 2:37 p.m and the hearing resumed at 3:01 p.m., with Lee retaking the stand.
Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker, a Mirkarimi supporter and Lee adversary, has suggested that the threat was used to get Lee off the stand after he testified that he didn’t talk to any supervisors about whether to suspend the sheriff. Walker has alleged that Supervisor Christina Olague told her that she spoke with Lee about that. Lee insists he testified truthfully.
Officer Albie Esparaza said he couldn’t go into details about why Lee was removed from the room.
“We received a phone call at the station and we took action,” police Officer Albie Esparaza said. “There is no disputing that.”
As for the remaining security response at City Hall, Esparza said that’s up to the Sheriff’s Department. Agency officials said Thursday that they decided in consultation with the building manager not to evacuate the building because the threat was outside.
No arrests have been made in connection with the bomb threat.