Perjury focus in sheriff case now shifts to Ross Mirkarimi

Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s official misconduct hearings are based on his March confession to misdemeanor domestic violence against his wife. To the casual observer, that might seem like sufficient reason to remove him from a top law enforcement post.

But as with most things at City Hall, there are complications. These days, the attention has suddenly shifted to who might have lied during testimony. And after the surprising recent accusations from two sources that Mayor Ed Lee committed perjury in his testimony, the City Attorney’s Office — which represents the mayor in the case — now says Mirkarimi was “untruthful” in his own under-oath answers.

The City Attorney’s Office specifically alleges that Mirkarimi was misleading when answering questions about the process of handing over his guns to law enforcement during his Jan. 13 arrest on three domestic violence charges.
While San Francisco police inspectors reported that Mirkarimi told them he only had two firearms instead of three — and that he had sold the third to a fellow police academy recruit back in 1996 — the sheriff-in-limbo’s testimony didn’t make that entirely clear.

“Is it your testimony that you told them that you didn’t know where your Smith & Wesson gun was, or whether you even still owned it?” Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith asked Mirkarimi during his June 29 testimony.

“I believe so,” Mirkarimi replied. “I was flustered because I wanted to be specific and I was trying to be as specific as I could and at that moment, um, I wanted to be as precise as I possibly could.” Then he smiled and added, “The storage room was a mess.”

But if the presiding Ethics Commission agrees to hear a rebuttal, police Inspector Mike Becker is expected to testify that Mirkarimi definitively said he “no longer owned this weapon because he sold it long ago.” Becker also is expected to report that there was no agreement between police, Mirkarimi or the sheriff’s attorney that the guns would be turned over to the Sheriff’s Department instead of police, as Mirkarimi clearly testified was the case.

According to written testimony, police had a difficult time obtaining the guns from the Sheriff’s Department, where Mirkarimi’s attorney surrendered them.

Having been a staunch gun-control advocate as a longtime member of the Board of Supervisors, Mirkarimi also testified that the guns were behind two sets of locks in a storage unit at his home, and that the disputed Smith & Wesson was eventually “unearthed” in the same area as his other two guns.

The Ethics Commission is expected to decide on Thursday whether to hear Becker’s rebuttal. The commission also is expected to decide whether four new witnesses requested by Mirkarimi’s attorneys will be questioned in relation to the mayor’s alleged perjury.

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