Gascon on Mirkarimi: ‘Rationalization’ is ‘Typical of Criminal Defendant'; Audio, Transcript

On the eve of the San Francisco Ethics Commission taking up misconduct charges against Ross Mirkarimi, District Attorney George Gascon got in some last licks against the suspended sheriff.

In an interview on KCBS radio yesterday, Gascon took issue with Mirkarimi’s recent characterization of the incident with his wife that led to a sentence of three years probation on False Imprisonment charges and an attempt by Mayor Ed Lee to permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi made the remarks in an hour-long interview on KQED’s Forum program last week.

“He actually indicates that the reason why he bruised his wife is because he was trying to be a good father,” Gascon said. The context on which he describes where this occurred is contrary to the evidence.”

This isn’t the first time Gascon has criticized Mirkarimi for comments made subsequent to his guilty plea. On March 16 Gascon told the Chronicle that he objected to remarks Mirkarimi made to Matier & Ross attributing his guilty plea in part to mounting legal bills and and concerns about his family.

The Ethics Commission takes up the case against Mirkarimi today at 4:30 p.m. You can watch that live here.

Partial, edited transcription of Gascon interview with KCBS

QUESTION: You’ve had a lot to say about the sheriff, some of the things he’s said, political professional, personal.

GASCON: There are multiple things at play. This was a typical misdemeanor domestic violence case. Perhaps what made it a little different is we had overwhelming evidence in this case. We had video, we had two very good witnesses, we had a prior girlfriend whose injuries and situation were very similar to this and pointed to a pattern…presumably that is the reason why Mr. Mirkarimi pled guilty.

What he’s doing now is very typical of many criminal defendants. Criminal defendants have a tendency to minimize their behavior, to rationalize it, and on occasion they lie. So that’s not unusual.

The problem we have as a community in going forward is the other piece. Typically a law enforcement officer who is convicted of a crime and then during an administrative process they are deemed to be providing either false or misleading statements, generally that’s a very serious offense, because we expect law enforcement officers to be credible people.

So while Mr. Mirkarimi as a criminal defendant was treated as any other criminal defendant, he was given his due process and he certainly pled a deal like many other people do when they see there’s overwhelming evidence coming against them, and they rationalize their behavior and they may actually try to minimize it or provide a different story — that’s all normal and that’s okay for a criminal defendant. The question we have to ask ourselves: Is that okay for the lead law enforcement person in our community?

QUESTION: What exactly has he said recently that you object to?

GASCON: We certainly object to the way that this case is being characterized. If you listen to part of the interview he did, I was almost expecting that he was going to say that this was a self-defense case. He actually indicates that the reason why he grabbed his wife and bruised her was he was trying to be a good father.

Also the context on which he describes this occurred is contrary to the evidence. There was certainly an argument in the car and we certainly have evidence to believe the bruising occurred in the home.

But again, all that is okay for a criminal defendant, and he is a criminal defendant. What we need to ask ourselves: Is this okay for someone leading our Sheriff Dept?

QUESTION: Do you feel he violated the agreement he made with you in the plea deal?

GASCON: No I don’t. I’m disappointed that he continues to minimize or actually not hold himself accountable for what occurred…but I’m not necessarily expecting criminal defendants to come out and knock themselves over and admit they did something wrong and continue to do so.

QUESTION: Do you regret you entered into a plea deal with him and did not proceed with a full domestic violence trial?

GASCON: No I don’t. Because we treated this case as we would treat any similar situated case. And from that point of view this case continues to be a very typical case…It is very common for domestic violence offenders to try to turn things around and actually make the victim the one at fault. Which is the direction this is going. It’s no longer his fault, it’s her fault. He was trying to protect the baby, he was being a good father, he kept her from hurting the baby…right?

QUESTION: When you’re speaking out about this now, is it as a personal citizen or as the DA…because there’s no prosecutorial reason. Am I correct?

GASCON: As the head law enforcement person of the county, I still have to make sure that the system remains with intergrity. And part of that is I have to police the police and the Sheriff Department and that raises some concerns for me.

  • chantal

    Fabulous! Thank you,

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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