(Bay City News) San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said today he will not be taking pay during the days he is on trial for domestic violence. However, he stopped short of saying he would temporarily step down from his post.
Mirkarimi is facing misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with an incident involving his wife on New Year's Eve. The trial is set to start Feb. 24.
Mirkarimi met with Mayor Ed Lee this afternoon to discuss whether he will be able to keep up with his duties as sheriff while dealing with the court case, and whether he should step aside.
The sheriff met with Lee in the mayor's office at City Hall then spoke to reporters afterward. He described the discussion as "cordial."
When asked whether he would temporarily step down during the trial, Mirkarimi replied, "We'll see if it comes to that. We'll see."
However, Mirkarimi said he does not plan on billing the city during days he is in trial.
"I think it's only principled that I would not take pay while I'm in trial," he said.
Mirkarimi also said he will recuse himself from any disciplinary proceedings involving sheriff's deputies while his case is pending.
He said the mayor "rightfully comes from a sentiment of concern" because "the perception is this could be some sort of distraction."
Mirkarimi said, "We are doing exactly what we need to be doing" in the sheriff's department and "it's very important that I stick to the duties I've been ascribed to do."
Lee said earlier today that he would leave the decision up to Mirkarimi about whether he should step down, but noted that the sheriff must consider the effect the case might have on the public as well as his office.
Mirkarimi pleaded not guilty last Thursday to the charges against him, which stem from an incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, during which their 2-year-old son Theo was present.
Lopez spoke during Mirkarimi's arraignment, denying that she has a complaint against her husband.
The case came to light after Lopez allegedly told her neighbor Ivory Madison about the Dec. 31 incident and Madison called police.
Mirkarimi will return to court this Thursday when his attorney Bob Waggener will ask a judge to remove a stay-away order that is preventing him from contacting his wife and son.
Mirkarimi today also briefly addressed allegations from an ex-girlfriend who told police over the weekend that he was abusive to her during their relationship.
"We're going to fight it," he said of the new allegations.
Update 4:35 p.m. The Chron characterizes Mirkarimi's position on stepping side this way:
Embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi met with Mayor Ed Lee this afternoon and said afterward that he did not intend to take a leave of absence as he defends himself against misdemeanor domestic violence and related charges.
“I will make sure, as I have been doing, (to) attend to the needs of the department,” Mirkarimi said after leaving the mayor’s office through a side door and being pursued by reporters up two flights of stairs at City Hall.