Sheriff Mirkarimi sworn in under awkward cloud
By Rachel Gordon
January 9, 2012
Ross Mirkarimi was ceremonially sworn in as San Francisco’s 35th sheriff in a packed Civic Center auditorium Sunday and wasted no time acknowledging the legal and political challenge he faces amid a police investigation into allegations that he abused his wife.
“I am sorry that a cloud hangs over what should be a very special day for Eliana, me and my entire family, and all of you who worked so hard. They and you deserve better,” he said. “But you know what? Clouds break, and the possibilities shine through.”
Many in the audience of several hundred at Herbst Theatre burst into loud applause, showing a public backing for the man who just came off seven years as one of the city’s most liberal members of the Board of Supervisors and whose victory in the sheriff’s race was the biggest win for progressive political forces in the November election.
Sunday’s celebration prominently featured Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez. She and their young son, Theo, took the stage with Mirkarimi, and she stood with her arm around her husband when he took the oath of office. The couple shared a lingering kiss after he was sworn in, and the newly minted sheriff enthusiastically acknowledged his wife during his inaugural remarks.
She also stepped in to defend her husband when he was asked by reporters about the incident after his swearing-in.
“This is a private matter, a family matter,” he said, before Lopez broke in to add, “taken completely out of context.”
She said, “I don’t have any complaint against my husband.”
When asked point-blank whether he was ever physically or verbally abusive to his wife, Mirkarimi said a simple “no.”
He added that he has faith that the criminal justice system, of which he is now a part, will sort everything out.
The allegations surfaced Thursday that Mirkarimi, 50, was under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident involving Lopez on New Year’s Eve.
Neighbor contacts police
Ivory Madison, a neighbor, told an officer that she spoke with Lopez. Madison contacted police several days later to report the incident, according to court documents. Officers obtained a search warrant to get a video camera and phone that allegedly show bruising on Lopez’s arm that she reportedly received during the domestic violence and text messages discussing the episode.
Police investigators handed their case to the district attorney’s office Friday to determine whether charges will be filed. If they are, and Mirkarimi is convicted, he would be prohibited under state law from serving as sheriff. Mayor Ed Lee would name his replacement.
Mirkarimi suggested Sunday that the police probe, or at least the fact that it became public knowledge, may have been politically motivated, saying there may have been “forces at work that want to stop me from becoming sheriff.” He declined to elaborate.
Read more: sfgate
As controversy grows, Sheriff Mirkarimi sworn in privately
Jan. 8, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — Eschewing a public swearing-in ceremony that had been scheduled for weeks, Ross Mirkarimi swore in as the new San Francisco County Sheriff in private event Saturday evening as the controversy regarding reports of spousal abuse continued to plague him.
The former supervisor reportedly took the oath of office during a private ceremony at City Hall Saturday night, according to spokesman Jim Stearns.
The event, which had been planned for Sunday morning since December, was re-scheduled to the night before because of what Stearns described as “scheduling issues.”
The public swearing-in ceremony was still planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at the city’s War Memorial Veterans Building.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco judge who was set to administer the oath during Sunday’s event has declined to do so.
Feinstein, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, had been invited to administer the oath Sunday.
But in an email to the San Francisco Chronicle, Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein says she didn’t want to create a potential future legal conflict, should a case naming Mirkarimi be brought to her court.
Mirkarimi was under investigation over allegations that he was involved in a domestic violence incident with his wife, Eliana Lopez, which she has denied.
According to a police affidavit, a neighbor of the couple said Lopez told her she sustained a bruise on her upper right arm when Mirkarimi grabbed her on New Year’s Eve.
Ivory Madison also told police she videotaped the injury at the request of Lopez and exchanged text messages with her about the alleged domestic violence, the affidavit said.
San Francisco police turned their findings over to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office late Friday, police spokesman Albie Esparza said.
Officials in the DA’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.
In related news, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee told KTVU on Friday that he planned to announce a replacement for Mirkarimi on the board of supervisors Monday.
The appointee will as the supervisor for District Five, which includes the Haight-Ashbury and Inner Sunset, and serve the remaining year left on Mirkarimi’s term.
The board of supervisors was scheduled to hold its first meeting of the New Year next Tuesday.