Power and punishment in play as details emerge in alleged Mirkarimi abuse 

click to enlarge In court documents released Tuesday, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's wife and neighbors allege a pattern of abuse. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • In court documents released Tuesday, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's wife and neighbors allege a pattern of abuse.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi told his wife he was a “powerful” man who could take her 2-year-old son away from her, according to court documents released Tuesday.

A Jan. 13 warrant for Mirkarimi’s arrest summarizes his wife’s conversations with two neighbors regarding his treatment of her, portraying a woman afraid of losing her son and worried about the impact of domestic strife on the boy.

Eliana Lopez, Mirkarimi’s wife, attempted to seek comfort and counsel from neighbors, revealing details of their New Year’s Eve dispute that resulted in a police investigation and three misdemeanor charges against the current sheriff and former supervisor.

Lopez told a neighbor Mirkarimi threatened to use his position as a powerful politician to gain custody of their son, Theo. She also indicated it was the second time Mirkarimi had physically hurt her.

Mirkarimi has denied there was any abuse, and in the wake of the investigation, Lopez has publicly denounced the charges, saying the incident has been taken out of context.

However, on Jan. 4, neighbor Ivory Madison recounted to police how Lopez arrived at her home on New Year’s Day, unbeknownst to Mirkarimi, and showed her a large bruise on her right arm.

Madison apparently used a video camera to document Lopez’s injury and her description of events, which police later confiscated along with emails and text messages between the two women.

“This happened yesterday,” a crying Lopez says on the video, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. “And this is the second time this is happening.”

Lopez told Madison that on Dec. 31, the couple and their son were driving to a restaurant for lunch when Lopez asked Mirkarimi if she could visit her family in Venezuela after Mirkarimi’s Jan. 8 inauguration, the affidavit says.

Mirkarimi “started to scream ‘f--- you, f--- you, you are trying to take Theo away from me,’”  then turned the car around and “stated something to the effect that she didn’t deserve to eat,” according to Madison’s account to police.

Back inside their home, Mirkarimi “continued to be verbally abusive and physically abusive,” including “pushing, pulling and grabbing” by Mirkarimi, Madison told police. Lopez told Madison that Theo was present during the altercation and she told her husband, “Look what this is doing to our son, look what you are doing to our son, please stop.”

Lopez then ran into the street screaming and threatening to call police, according to the affidavit. Their young son also was outside, crying and screaming, when Mirkarimi apologized and asked Lopez to come inside.

The affidavit says at Madison’s home, Lopez told her Mirkarimi did not want her to leave the couple’s house and told her not to tell anyone about the incident.

A second female neighbor told police that on Jan. 4, Lopez told her “that this was the second time that Ross Mirkarimi had been physically abusive in the last year, with the last time occurring in March,” according to the document.

At least once in the past year, the neighbor told police she had heard Mirkarimi yell, “Get the f--- out!” the affidavit said.

Lopez told the neighbor “she wasn’t sure what to do and that Ross Mirkarimi had told the victim that he was a powerful man,” the affidavit said.

Lopez told the neighbor her son had seen what happened and told his mother, “Daddy made boo-boo on Mommy’s arm.”

Mirkarimi, 50, has been charged with three misdemeanors: domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in court Thursday.

Mirkarimi’s attorney, Bob Waggener, said Tuesday the affidavit had been “wrongly disclosed” by the court, but declined to immediately comment on the specific allegations, other than to say that in the March incident, “there wasn’t any physical violence, it was an argument.”



Excerpts from Mirkarimi’s arrest warrant

“This happened yesterday. And this is the second time this is happening.”
— Lopez, in a videotape made by a neighbor, describing her bruised arm

“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.”
— Lopez on the same videotape

“F--- you, f--- you, you are trying to take Theo away from me.”
— Mirkarimi to Lopez during their New Year’s Eve argument in the car

“Ross Mirkarimi stated something to the effect that she didn’t deserve to eat.”
— A neighbor details more of Lopez’s account of the argument

“Daddy made boo-boo on Mommy’s arm.”
— The couple’s young son, Theo, to Lopez

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, uh, sorry, sorry, please come back in the house, please come back in the house.”
— Mirkarimi after Lopez ran out of the house and threatened to call police

“Get the f--- out!”
— A neighbor told police she heard Mirkarimi yell during an earlier argument

Source: Jan. 13 SFPD arrest warrant affidavit

Sheriff is facing  calls to step down

By Joshua Sabatini
SF Examiner Staff Writer

The latest details to emerge in the domestic violence case against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have intensified calls for him to step aside from the post until the legal proceedings conclude.

Beverly Upton, the executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium who led a rally outside City Hall last week against Mirkarimi, described the latest details in the case as “disturbing.”

“It just really points to his inability to lead under this cloud,” Upton said Tuesday. “We’re just imploring him to take a leave of absence, paid, and get some help and manage this.”

Meanwhile, City Hall’s elected officials are keeping quiet about the growing controversy.

“Since the board may be required to consider this matter in the future, we have been advised by the city attorney to be cautious in what we say,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said.

The board could end up voting on whether to remove Mirkarimi if Mayor Ed Lee initiates official misconduct proceedings under the City Charter.

Lee has said he is reviewing his options.

“Mayor Lee does not want to interfere as the case is moving forward and do anything to jeopardize the process,” spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Tuesday.

Minouche Kandel, a staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid who was part of last week’s rally, said even if Mirkarimi is innocent of the charges, the sheriff’s ability to do his job has been compromised.  

Kandel said there are several conflicts that make Mirkarimi unable to carry out his duties as sheriff. The Sheriff’s Department has programs to rehabilitate those who are in jail for domestic violence and also offers services to help victims of abuse, Kandel said. She also said Mirkarimi has to work with the District Attorney’s Office, which is the same office prosecuting him, on how to handle hundreds of new inmates coming into the jail system from the state prison system under what is known as realignment.  



Legal quagmire unfolds

Allegations mar rise from supervisor to sheriff

  • Feb. 22, 2011: Two-term District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi files papers to run for San Francisco sheriff to replace Michael Hennessey, who served as sheriff since 1980.
  • Nov. 8: Mirkarimi, whom Hennessey endorsed, wins election with 38 percent of the vote, beating out former cop and Undersheriff Chris Cunnie and sheriff’s Capt. Paul Miyamoto.
  • Jan. 5, 2012: News emerges that the Police Department is investigating Mirkarimi for alleged domestic violence against his wife on New Year’s Eve.
  • Jan. 6: Police hand the investigation over to the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Jan. 7: Mirkarimi is sworn in as sheriff in a private nighttime ceremony at City Hall.
  • Jan. 8: Mirkarimi is inaugurated in a public ceremony that several city officials decline to attend. Mirkarimi insists he’s never abused his wife and calls the incident “a private matter, a family matter.” His wife says it was “completely taken out of context.”
  • Jan. 12: Domestic violence groups in The City call for Mirkarimi to either step down until the investigation is complete or resign.
  • Jan. 13: Mirkarimi charged by prosecutors with domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.
  • Jan. 17: Police affidavit released.
  • Jan. 19: Mirkarimi scheduled to be arraigned.

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