The San Francisco sheriff who over the summer became embroiled in a national debate over “sanctuary city” policies on Tuesday lost his bid for re-election amid a host of local controversies.
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, 54, was defeated by Vicki Hennessy, a former sheriff’s official who had the endorsement of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the sheriff deputies association. As of early Wednesday morning, Hennessy had received 62 percent of the vote to just 31 percent for Mirkarimi.
Mirkarimi was the subject of national criticism after Mexican illegal immigrant Francisco Sanchez allegedly shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle on San Francisco’s waterfront July 1. Sanchez had been released from Mirkarimi’s jail in March even though federal immigration officials had requested he be detained for possible deportation.
But since then, the sheriff’s oversight of the department has been plagued by other high-profile mishaps and controversies seen as contributing to his defeat. He had his driver’s license briefly suspended for failing to properly report a minor accident while driving a department-issued car, and he also flunked a marksmanship test.
Before those two incidents, a drug gang leader escaped from jail, and guards were accused of staging and gambling on inmate fights.
In November 2014, Mirkarimi also was forced to apologize for the bungled search for a San Francisco General Hospital patient whose body was found in a stairwell weeks after she wandered from her room. The sheriff is in charge of the hospital’s security, but deputies didn’t search the building until nine days after her disappearance. The city paid the patient’s family $3 million to settle a lawsuit.