Neighbors have accused suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, of illegally goading them to destroy video evidence in the couple’s domestic violence case, but Lopez now says Mirkarimi wasn’t aware the video existed at the time of the request in question.
“That’s absolutely true,” Mirkarimi’s attorney, David Waggoner, said Sunday. “Ross was not even home at the time that happened.” Waggoner also called the assertion that Lopez asked her neighbors to get rid of the video “nonsense.”
Lopez, currently in her native Venezuela, wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle last week in which she said she called spouses Ivory Madison and Abraham Mertens about the video, text message and email evidence because she felt wronged. Lopez said Madison — who has a law degree, but is not a practicing attorney — advised her to record the video, but would only release it in the event of a custody dispute over Mirkarimi and Lopez’s 2-year-old son, Theo.
Lopez said that just before the New Year’s Eve argument in which she sustained a bruised arm, she and Mirkarimi “had a very emotional misunderstanding about potential custody issues at a time when our relationship was struggling.” Lopez said her voice has been diminished in the saga and that no one had her “permission” to go to police about the incident.
“From the beginning, my public voice has been ignored and treated as irrelevant. Many in the media keep saying that I just don’t get it. But I do get it: I get that I am being used to bring my husband down,” Lopez wrote. “I do not approve.”
She also said she “never asked” Mayor Ed Lee to suspend her husband, which is what Lee did last month when Mirkarimi refused to step down. Mirkarimi, whose job entails oversight of The City’s jails, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment while three other misdemeanors were dropped.
Mertens, an attorney, recounted his side of the story last month, also in an op-ed.
“Telling the truth and facing the consequences are pillars of our society, and I’m proud of my wife for setting a good example for our daughter,” Mertens wrote. “If everyone acted as she did, the world would be a better place. If everyone behaved as Ross and Eliana did, can you imagine what would happen to our justice system and society?”
Mertens expressed disappointment that his wife was being vilified by Lopez and her attorney, Paula Canny, who wrote “a dramatic letter” saying Madison’s testimony in the ongoing case would be illegal given that Lopez thought she was giving the video account with the protection of attorney-client privilege.
S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Ari Burack contributed to this report.