Eliana Lopez's testimony is crucial as the Ethics Commission is investigating her husband on charges of official misconduct. It all started with an argument that turned physical on New Year's Eve and Wednesday night Lopez spoke with poise from the stand about their relationship.
It was a suspenseful night as everyone waited for Lopez to take the stand. She had just flown in from Venezuela Monday night, where she's been since March. She left behind her 3-year-old son Theo who's staying with her parents.
Lopez was the star attraction, eliciting a celebrity sort of reverence among supporters. There was a heated debate among attorneys over whether a restraining order would prohibit Mirkarimi from being in the same hearing room as his wife, but at 8:45 p.m. Lopez walked into the chamber on the third floor of City Hall. She smiles and winked at her husband as she faced the Ethics Commission.
Lopez: How I feel? I feel so scared.
Lawyer: So even now you feel scared that you would lose custody of Theo?
Lopez: Absolutely. It's why I'm in Venezuela... because I am so scared of all this madness.
It was on New Year's Eve that an argument between Mirkarimi and Lopez resulted in a bruise on Lopez's arm. Lopez said she confidentially told a neighbor about the skirmish and that neighbor videotaped the bruising and called police. That's when the scandal broke.
"She [the neighbor] also said as the sheriff, this is an old… she used the word… old boy's network and they will, you know, cover each other and so you have to make evidence and you need something to protect yourself and fight in case you get in a custody dispute," said Lopez on the stand.
Mirkarimi was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, a plea bargain to a lesser charge of false imprisonment. Mayor Ed Lee suspended the sheriff in March and now the Ethics Commission is hearing testimony that will decide his fate.
Lopez testified for 45 minutes and her testimony will resume Thursday at 5 p.m. Lopez said she has to get back to Venezuela by Monday for a film rehearsal. She said she needs that job to make money for her family.
The panel is expected to make its recommendation on the sheriff's future to the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 16.
ABC7 News I-Team reporter Dan Noyes tweeted live from the hearing. Follow him on Twitter: @dannoyes