SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Friday that he would find it "extremely difficult" to work again with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi if the suspended lawman gets his job back.
Lee made his remarks while testifying before the city's Ethics Commission, which has convened a trial-like hearing to determine whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors remove Mirkarimi from office.
The mayor cited Mirkarimi with misconduct and suspended him without pay in March, shortly after the sheriff pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment for bruising his wife's arm during a New Year's Eve dispute.
Lee told the five-member ethics panel that he suspended Mirkarimi because of the significance of the role of sheriff as one of the top law enforcement positions in the city.
He said he gave Mirkarimi the option to resign or face suspension.
Mirkarimi took a plea deal and avoided trial two months after he pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and multiple domestic violence charges.
"I came to the conclusion that he committed domestic violence," Lee said, adding that Mirkarimi's brief stay in the jail he runs and subsequent plea helped him make his decision.
On Thursday, Mirkarimi testified to the commission that he believes in redemption and that a sheriff such as himself can lead a strong example of redeeming behavior.
On Friday, Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser asked Lee if he thought he could get past Mirkarimi's conviction so they could work together effectively.
"It would be extremely difficult," Lee said.
Mirkarimi's attorney, Shepard Kopp, later asked Lee if he was telling the commission he could not work with Mirkarimi in the same vein as he does with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who ran against him for mayor last year.
"Are you telling the commission that you refuse to carry out your duties?" Kopp asked Lee.
"I'm not going to refrain from any of my duties," Lee replied.
Kopp later asked Lee if the mayor could put aside his differences and work with the embattled sheriff if the proceedings fail to remove Mirkarimi from office.
"Yes," Lee said.
When asked later if he thought Lee was truthful, Kopp said, "I leave that for others to decide."
Lee's testimony was halted for about 90 minutes Friday after police received an apparent threat of car bombs near City Hall and another undisclosed building, authorities said. No devices were discovered.
Earlier Friday, Mirkarimi testified as city attorneys alleged he directed his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, and his campaign manager, Linnette Peralta Haynes, to dissuade a neighbor from talking about the alleged domestic violence. Continued...