Key video in Mirkarimi ethics case made public

ABC7 has obtained photos of video shot by a neighbor of SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's wife Eliana Lopez. The prosecution in the domestic violence case against Mirkarimi says the photos show the bruises Lopez suffered on New Year's Eve when he grabbed her.
May 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The emotional video of suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's wife Eliana Lopez is now available for all to see despite a contentious legal battle to keep it private.

The entire 45-second tape was released Wednesday. Mirkarimi responded to the release of the tape he and his wife have been fighting to keep private saying, "The release of the video is the latest heavy-handed tactic to ruin me with absolutely no regard for my family's well being. It utterly violates my wife's rights and serves no public good. It is the politics of destruction at its worst, and those who advocated its release should be ashamed."

It was five months ago that he and his wife got into an argument that snowballed into a legal case and his suspension as sheriff. The video released Thursday is at the heart of all the controversy. It's what many people have been waiting to see, the video of Lopez the day after she was bruised by her husband, Sheriff Mirkarimi.

"This happened yesterday and it's 2011, and this is the second time this is happening, and I tell Ross I want to work on the marriage. We need help. I've 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 did. He said that, that he's very powerful and he can do it," Lopez says in the video.

The video was made by their neighbor Ivory Madison on January 1 and seized by police a few days later. Since then, the couple's attorneys have tried every tactic they could to keep the video out of the public eye. On Thursday, Lopez's lawyer Paula Canny said she may sue over the release, the result of a records request by the San Francisco Chronicle. "Do all of us really need to have seen that? How does it help any of us? I'm not sure. It's my opinion that it doesn't and it hurts a family," she said.

However, Mayor Ed Lee believes it enhances transparency as he pushes to permanently remove Mirkarimi from his job as sheriff on the grounds of official misconduct. "We need all the facts. We don't need anybody to play any legal games or political games with this," he said.

Mirkarimi was greeted by supporters at the ethics commission earlier this week. His wife is now visiting family in Venezuela where in a recent interview with the ABC7 News I-Team's Dan Noyes, she expressed worries about the video's potential impact. "Is it really right to release the video? Don't think about my son or my career, my life, my family?" she asked.

In a statement released Thursday, Lopez blasted the city's actions. "I am sad and hurt by the elected officials of the City of San Francisco: Mayor Lee, City Attorney Herrera, District Attorney Gascon and Judge Wong. They each have contributed to the release of the video against my wishes and allowed it to go viral. Because of their actions the images on that video will exist forever for anyone to see, including my son Theo, now and forever," she said.

"My grandchildren will see the video, as well as my great grandchildren. I believe what Judge Wong, the district attorney, the city attorney, and Mayor Lee have done to me is far worse than anything they accuse Ross of doing. I hope they realize after reflection that what they have done is irreparable and perpetually damaging to me and my family," Lopez continued.

The tape was the key piece of evidence in the criminal domestic violence case against Mirkarimi and will now loom large before the ethics commission hearing. The mayor says he has not seen it yet. "I admittedly say I have not," he said Thursday.

Lee says he expects to take a look at the video before he testifies before the commission.


Load Comments