San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Thursday pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges connected to a New Year's Eve incident and was ordered to stay away from his wife and child.
Mirkarimi, 50, was charged last Friday with three misdemeanors: domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. He later posted $35,000 bail.
The court Thursday issued a stay-away order that bars Mirkarimi from going near his wife, Eliana Lopez, and child. Lopez did appear in court Thursday with her attorney to argue against the protective order.
The charges stem from a New Year’s Eve incident between Mirkarimi – a former two-term supervisor elected sheriff in November – and Lopez in which Mirkarimi allegedly bruised her arm. Both Mirkarimi and Lopez have publicly denied there was any abuse, and Mirkarimi has called it “a private matter, a family matter.”
Police began investigating Mirkarimi after a female neighbor of the couple came forward on Jan. 4, saying a tearful Lopez came to her the day after the incident, according to court documents.
Lopez told the neighbor that Mirkarimi had also abused her months earlier and, worrying that her husband would try to take the couple’s 2-year-old son, Theo, away from her, Lopez asked her to videotape her injury, a police arrest warrant affidavit said.
“I told Ross I want to work on the marriage, we need help, I been 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 … said that he is very powerful and can do it,” the affidavit quoted Lopez as telling the neighbor.
The fight had begun during a car ride to a restaurant for lunch that day, Lopez told the neighbor, after Lopez asked if she could return to her native Venezuela after Mirkarimi’s Jan. 8 inauguration as sheriff, in order to visit her family, records said.
Mirkarimi began screaming “f--- you, f--- you, you are trying to take Theo away from me,” and turned the car around, saying “something to the effect that she didn’t deserve to eat,” the affidavit said. The fight reportedly escalated back at the couple’s Western Addition home, while their son was present.
“Daddy made boo-boo on mommy’s arm,” Theo told his mother, according to a second female neighbor police spoke with.
District Attorney George Gascón has called Mirkarimi’s alleged behavior “inexcusable” and pledged to treat the high-profile case as any other.
“No one is above the law,” Gascón said last Friday.
If convicted, Mirkarimi could face up to a year in county jail.