A video taken of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s wife shows her crying and pointing to a bruise on her arm that allegedly occurred during an argument on New Year’s Eve, and she alludes to possible prior domestic violence incidents from earlier last year, according to court documents.
Mirkarimi was set to be arraigned on the afternoon of Jan. 19 on charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with the alleged Dec. 31 incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, and their young son Theo.
Before being elected as sheriff, Mirkarimi represented District 5 — which includes the city’s Japantown — on the Board of Supervisors.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed on Jan. 13 by police Inspector Richard Daniele and released to reporters on Jan. 17, a neighbor called police to say she was told by Lopez about the attack a day after it allegedly happened. The neighbor took a video of Lopez crying and pointing to a bruise on her right bicep, Daniele said in the affidavit.
Lopez then said, “This happened yesterday. Two times in 2011 and this is the second time this is happening. I told Ross I want to work on the marriage, we need help, I been (sic) telling him we need help and I’m going to use this just in case he wants to take Theo away from me because he did said (sic) that he is very powerful and can do it,” according to the affidavit.
The neighbor said Lopez told her that the Dec. 31 argument started when she, Mirkarimi and Theo were traveling to a restaurant for lunch and she asked if she could visit her family in Venezuela the day after he was sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 8.
Mirkarimi became enraged, saying “f— you, f— you, you are trying to take Theo away from me,” then turned the car around, saying she didn’t deserve to eat, Daniele said in the affidavit.
The argument continued when they got home, with Mirkarimi “pushing, pulling and grabbing” Lopez. She then ran out of the house and into the street, and Theo was also outside screaming and crying when Mirkarimi said “no, uh, sorry, sorry, please come back in the house,” according to the affidavit.
Lopez had apparently gone to the neighbor’s house to talk to her while Mirkarimi was in the shower because he did not want her to leave the house and told her not to tell anybody about the incident, Daniele said in the affidavit.
Lopez said she told Mirkarimi “I’m going to tell people and I’m going to leave the house and then he looked scared,” according to the affidavit.
During a canvass of the neighborhood near the couple’s Webster Street home on Jan. 12, district attorney investigators contacted another neighbor who told them that she talked to Lopez on Jan. 4 and was also told about the incident and that there was a previous incident in March 2011, Daniele said in the affidavit.
The neighbor said Lopez described the Dec. 31 incident as Mirkarimi “going ballistic” and that Theo saw what happened and said “Daddy made boo-boo on mommy’s arm,” according to the affidavit. The second neighbor also told authorities she could occasionally hear fighting coming from the couple’s home, and recalled hearing at least once last year Mirkarimi yelling “get the f— out!”
Mirkarimi’s attorney Bob Waggener said Jan. 17 that he had not yet been able to view the arrest warrant affidavit but was aware of the allegation of the prior incident in March.
“There may have been an argument, but no domestic violence occurred,” Waggener said.
Lopez has since denied the allegations against Mirkarimi, saying at a news conference on Jan. 13, “This is unbelievable. I don’t have any complaints against my husband.”
She has retained an attorney, Cheryl Wallace, and has refused to speak to investigators about the case, according to the affidavit.
Mirkarimi, who was booked into jail late Jan. 13 and released on $35,000 bail, is not allowed to enter the family’s home as part of an emergency protective order obtained by prosecutors. He has said he will fight the charges and will not resign as sheriff, although Mayor Ed Lee has the option of suspending him under the City Charter.
Lee said on Jan. 16 that he was not ready to make a decision on whether to suspend Mirkarimi. “We need to allow the case to go forward without interference,” he said.
If convicted of all charges, Mirkarimi could face a year in prison and three years’ probation.