SF Deputies Attack Mirkarimi for Steinle Murder

Ross Mirkarimi
The Associated Press

In the merry-go-round blame game being played by San Francisco officials as to which party is responsible for letting loose illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who murdered Kathryn Steinle on July 1, the latest salvo comes from San Francisco sheriff’s deputies, who filed a complaint against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

The sheriffs claim that a March 13 memo from Mirkarimi prevented them from contacting federal immigration authorities about Lopez-Sanchez, who was released by Mirkarimi in April after arriving in San Francisco to face a drug charge for selling marijuana. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had asked to be notified before Lopez-Sanchez was released.

Lopez-Sanchez was due to be deported for the sixth time, having incurred several convictions for drugs since 2001, but the San Francisco’s Sheriff’s department moved him to San Francisco from a federal prison in San Bernardino County to face the marijuana charge.

Mirkarimi’s March memo amended the 2013 “Due Process for All” ordinance, signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee, which stated that someone could only be deported from San Francisco if they had one violent felony conviction in the past seven years and were charged with another violent felony. The March memo urged “limited contact and communication with ICE representatives absent a court-issued warrant, a signed court order, or other legal requirement authorizing ICE access.”

The Los Angeles Times reported, “A handful of agencies — including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — instead of responding to the hold requests had shifted to notifying ICE of pending releases in cases that conform to California’s Trust Act. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department was not among those agencies.”

In their complaint, the deputies assert that Mirkarimi’s policy “recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens, and those who merely come to visit the San Francisco area,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They also want Mirkarimi to nullify the March memo so that the sheriff’s department can share information with federal immigration agents about detainees. That information could contain their citizenship status, the papers filed when the detainees were booked and arrested, and the dates they were released from custody.

Political machinations may be catalyzing the deputies’ complaint, according to Freya Horne, an attorney in the Sheriff’s Department quoted by the Chronicle. The union which the deputies belong to has endorsed Mirkarimi’s opponent, Vicki Hennessy, for sheriff this fall.