Ross Mirkarimi Hearing: Eliana Lopez Says She Wan't Abused, She Just Bruises Easily
|Eliana Lopez testifying|
In her testimony, she detailed the New Year's Eve argument in which Mirkarimi bruised her arm. Here's some of what Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith managed to squeeze out of Lopez amid the at-times combative banter, the interruptions, and the sighs tossed between the prosecutor and the witness:
- She bruises easily. Lopez used this fact to assert that the sheriff did not push, pull, or grab her, and she denied the continuation of the fight inside her home, testimony that directly contradicts the story of her neighbor, Ivory Madison.
- She likes to eat every two hours or so. That's something that her workaholic husband had to get used to in their marriage. Mirkarimi liked to have coffee in the morning and not eat until dinner, but Lopez insisted that he at least sit with the family while they eat. During their family's two-day vacation to Monterey, Lopez was smug that her husband ate with them, adding, "Actually, he enjoyed it."
- She was surrounded by people with troubled pasts. This included Callie Williams, Ivory Madison, and her own husband. Lopez said that Williams told her about her [Williams'] own abusive family past. Lopez also said said that Madison confided in her on Jan. 1 that she had anger management issues and was seeing a therapist. Then she concluded that Mirkarimi, her husband, has an irrational fear of losing Theo, the couple's 3-year-old son, due to his own childhood, in which his mother took him away from his father.
- Her brother convinced her to stop all written communication. After the incident became public, she closed
her Facebook page and tried to stop sending e-mails and text messages.
"We were so scared that someone was the Big Brother around," she said,
"and watching all of this -- it turns out it was right."
The police obtained this video, which became the focal point of the Mirkarimi case, after Madison was served with a search warrant. Mirkarimi was arrested on Jan. 13, just a few days after he was sworn in as the county sheriff. He was charged with battery and child endangerment. In March, he took a plea deal, where prosecutors dropped all charges in exchange for Mirkarimi's guilty plea to false imprisonment.
However, last night, there were some discrepancies in Lopez's testimony. When Keith asked her about the video shot by Ivory Madison, in which Lopez points to her bruise and said that was the second time this has happened, she told him everything said in the video was true. But then she later clarified that the alleged "second time" to which she had referred was when she and her husband discussed divorce.
Lopez said she cried in the video because she was worried about losing custody of her son, Theo. At this point in her testimony, she started to cry.
Right about the time this video was made, Madison and Lopez were just beginning to get chummy. The day the video was made allegedly began as a cookie-making, New-Year's-resolution rendezvous, and it snowballed into a "disaster." While at Madison's apartment, Lopez said she learned that "Madison is in therapy" for anger issues. Hearing this, Lopez decided to share her own stories, and told Madison about the New Year's Eve fight and showed her the bruise.
Lopez thought Madison had experience as an attorney and wanted the phone number of her therapist.
However,Lopez stuck to her story about Linnette Haynes, Mirkarimi's campaign manager who got involved in the drama, worried that the story would make its way into the press. Mayor Ed Lee argued that Mirkarimi used Haynes to do damage control and prevent the information from leaking in public. But Lopez denied that Haynes interfered with witnesses. What really happened, Lopez said, is that she went to Haynes to ask about the nature of domestic violence, and to ask for recommendations for marriage therapy.
Lopez traveled from her native country of Venezuela to testify before the Ethics Commission in City Hall. She and her son have been in Venezuela since March, which she claims is only so she can support herself and Theo since Mirkarimi remains suspended without pay.
That New Year's Eve argument snowballed into Mirkarimi's arrested and misdemeanor criminal conviction. He's not been allowed to see or speak to his wife since March, per a court-issued restraining order. To cap it off, Mayor Ed Lee then suspended the sheriff without pay after Mirkarimi refused to resign. Now, the mayor is attempting to get Mirkarimi removed from office permanently, charging him with official misconduct.
The Ethics Commission will make a recommendation about the official misconduct charge by Aug. 16. That recommendation will go to the Board of Supervisors, which will have the final say over Mirkarimi's political fate.
In other news from last night, the Commission panel denied to issue subpoenas that could have helped determine if the Mayor Lee committed perjury when he testified under oath.
Ethics Commission Chairman Ben Hur claimed that this testimony would not be useful for the Commission's decision on Mirkarimi, and Commissioner Paul Renne agreed that this issue does not pertain to the mission of this hearing.
"That is a matter for the DA," said Hur. "It's a criminal action and not something that we can decide.... The issue is too collateral for it to merit additional testimony."
Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly