Ross Mirkarimi Hearing: Eliana Lopez Talks About the Domestic Dispute With Her Husband
In the end, Lopez was resolute in her loyalty toward her husband, Ross Mirkarimi, who is fighting to keep his job as the county sheriff after he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment of his wife.
"We are a family," she said regarding obtaining the consent from Mirkarimi needed to remain in Venezuela. "All the decisions, ever that we apart, we make all the decisions together."
However, Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith, who's representing Mayor Ed Lee in this fight, peppered Lopez with questions, hoping to prove that "Ms. Lopez has a thriving life in Venezuela now, and that she's going to want to be careful about upsetting that by doing something that would be countering the interests of the sheriff."
Lopez insisted her extended trip to Venezuela was merely a financial necessity to support her family. In April, Mayor Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay from his post as sheriff.
"That was one of the reasons that I moved to Venezuela, is so I can have my own home and to live in Venezuela and to have maybe a better life."
"And Ms. Lopez, you've never considered divorcing your husband," Keith asked.
"No, really serious, no?"
Another minute went by before Keith asked her again: "Is it your testimony that you've never considered divorcing your husband?"
An "objection" arose.
"Have you seriously considered divorcing your husband?" Keith asked once more.
The Ethics Commission stopped him here.
Mirkarimi's wife clarified that she looked for information regarding custody about what her rights would be in a divorce case. She then shifted the conversation back to family, including the couple's 3-year-old son, Theo, and collaboration.
Keith then asked about the balance of power between the couple. As one of Lee's legal advisers, he tried to get Lopez to admit that her husband's power stemmed from his position as a former city supervisor and now sheriff.
"You are concerned that your husband is a powerful man who is powerful enough to take Theo away from you?" Keith asked.
Lopez then detailed a 40-minute conversation that she had in March 2011, from which she personally concluded that her husband was "a powerful man" due to his American citizenship, not because of his status as an elected official.
When Keith asked Lopez about what happened on the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2011, Lopez added some Venezuelan sass to her testimony. Her top three feisty remarks, in not particular order:
- "I said, 'I'm not going to cook. We'll have to go out for lunch.'"
- "I was not trying [to be polite]. I was just saying what I wanted," she said about visiting Venezuela with Theo.
- Regarding Mirkarimi raising his voice in the car: "His voice is so
strong and big and so he just doesn't have to do much, and so
immediately you feel like, Okay, [Lopez then throws the talk-to-the-hand gesture]."
Prior to Lopez's testimony, Attorney Sherri Kariser worked to bash Linnette Haynes, Mirkarimi's campaign manager. Mayor Ed Lee alleges that Haynes tried to dissuade witnesses, specifically Ivory Madison, the neighbor who reported the alleged domestic violence, after learning about the Lopez's video in which she was seen crying and pointing to the bruise Mirkarimi gave her.
Lee's legal counsel took this as an opportunity to sift through the 45 calls and texts messages sent back-and forth among Haynes, Lopez, and Mirkarimi on Jan. 4. Haynes reported that Madison's acts were "fishy," and that she [Haynes] was merely trying to provide emotional support to Mirkarimi's family.
Mirkarimi supporters and opponents filled the seats in City Hall, both in room 416, where the hearing occurred, and in the North Light courtroom, where the hearing streamed live. Proponents held signs, and wore stickers, and buttons reading, "Stand with Ross." Opponents wore shirts and held up signs that said "Enough."
Lopez previously vowed to testify only if the city would foot the bill for her plane ticket from Venezuela, which offer the city politely declined.
The Ethics Commission will decide whether Mirkairmi, who was elected sheriff in November, is guilty of official misconduct after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, stemming from a domestic dispute with his wife on New Year's Eve. During the argument, Mirkarimi grabbed Lopez, which is how she got that bruise on her arm. The Commission must make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will have the final say over his job.
Lopez is scheduled to take the stand again tonight at City Hall.
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