Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he was “ashamed and deeply sorry” and vowed to become “a better public servant,” after a judge sentenced him Monday for his role in a domestic violence incident against his wife.
Mirkarimi is on probation for three years, must undergo 52 weeks of domestic violence batterer’s classes, 100 hours of community service and parenting counseling, and won’t be able to carry a gun while a stay-away order from his wife remains in effect. But he gave no indication that he was considering stepping down.
“I will work so much harder so that I can regain your trust that I may, and I have, obviously lost,” Mirkarimi told reporters in a prepared statement outside court. At times he appeared close to tears, and acknowledged he has been in counseling “to address my arrogance and anger issues.”
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a New Year’s Eve argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, in which he grabbed and bruised her arm.
“I am ashamed and deeply sorry for my behavior,” Mirkarimi said. “I offer my deepest, heartfelt apology. I’m going to devote myself to repair my relationship with my family, with the people of San Francisco, and I’m committed to becoming a better public servant, one you can be proud of, someone who should not hide from their mistakes, and demonstrate what it means to grow forward.”
The former supervisor insisted he had been “a steadfast, avid advocate” against domestic violence and that his initial comments about the case being a “private family matter” were on the advice of his attorney at the time. He apologized for not quickly correcting the “misstatement.”
“I do not believe domestic violence is a private family matter,” Mirkarimi said.
District Attorney George Gascón — who recently questioned whether the sheriff’s guilty plea had been sincere after reports appeared about Mirkarimi’s legal fees being a factor in his decision — said Monday that he was now comfortable that he “has assumed responsibility for his acts.”
“We, as law enforcement officials, should not only take responsibility for our acts, but we have to make sure that we communicate our belief in the system,” Gascón said.
He dismissed the notion that he had prosecuted the sheriff because they had clashed on policy when Gascón was police chief and Mirkarimi was supervisor.
“If that were the case, I would probably have political vendettas against every other politician in this city,” Gascón said.
Conversely, he said, others had questioned him striking a plea deal “rather than going for the jugular.”
“Our intent here was not political, nor was the intent to embarrass him,” Gascón said. “Our intent was to seek a just outcome.”
Gascón said the plea deal exemplified the principles of redemption and restorative justice.
“We have afforded Ross Mirkarimi an opportunity to redeem himself with his family and his community,” Gascón said. “I hope that he will wholeheartedly embrace this occasion to change his ways.”
Politicians accused of crimes in The City in recent years have chosen to take plea deals, rather than take their cases to trial.
Oct. 10, 2008: Former Supervisor Ed Jew pleads guilty to federal felony charges of extortion, mail fraud and soliciting a bribe. On Nov. 18, 2008, he pleads guilty to a state perjury charge for lying about his residency. He was later sentenced to more than five years in federal prison, and another year on the state charge.
Jan. 6, 2012: State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, pleads no contest to a misdemeanor theft charge for shoplifting $2,500 worth of merchandise from a San Francisco department store. She was sentenced to three years’ probation.
March 12, 2012: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleads guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment of his wife in a domestic violence case. He was sentenced Monday to three years’ probation.