Newly-minted San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was arrested on January 13, five days after being sworn in. Last month, he pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment and was suspended by Mayor Ed Lee two days later. On Wednesday morning, for the first time since the firestorm of attention erupted in January, Mirkarimi himself told his story of how his wife got the bruise that started it all.
On KQED's "Forum" radio program, Mirkarimi said he, his wife, and his son were on the way to a pizza lunch just before noon on December 31. "A horrible quarrel had started between my wife Eliana and I. It was a somewhat familiar subject about an impending trip that she was going to take to Venezuela. She'd taken one six months earlier where she and my son Theo had been away, out of the country for over two months. That was excruciating to be apart from my family," he said.
Mirkarimi said he turned the car around and headed home, against Eliana's wishes, because he didn't want to be arguing in public. He says he parked the car and swore at her in front of Theo. "She was also extremely upset, to a point where I'd never seen her agitated before, in a way where it made my son extremely upset. So, as she was getting out of her passenger seat to un-harness our son, who is nearly three, he was panicked. You could see the panic. And, she was screaming. I reached over from the driver's seat, still with my seatbelt on, to put my hand underneath her arm, to try to guide her back into the passenger seat, so we could just de-escalate this and talk this through. It was that, when I put my hand under her arm, that she got bruised," he explained.
Mirkarimi said the false imprisonment conviction is based on those moments when he turned the car around against Eliana's wishes. He is fighting the suspension. On Wednesday, a judge issued a tentative ruling against his bid to have the city attorney disqualified. There is another hearing on the merits of the suspension on Friday. That outcome will determine whether the ethics commission takes up the official misconduct case against him on Monday.