Suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has broken his silence, talking to media for the first time about the events of New Year's Eve, which ultimately led to his being removed from office.
Mirkarimi spoke to The San Francisco Chronicle and KQED radio this week, calling much of the district attorney's case against him "a fabrication." He claims the bruise on his wife's arm was an accident.
Responding to Mirkarimi's interviews, San Francisco's District Attorney George Gason issued his own statement Thursday: " The facts are clear. Ross Mirkarimi physically assaulted his wife and restrained her liberty, leaving a very large bruise on her arm. He did this in front of their young son and dissuaded (his wife) from reporting the crime. Fortunately, Ms. Madison had the courage and wisdom to notify law enforcement. There is ample evidence: two neighbors, at least one other victim, the video of (his wife) recounting the battery, emails and text messages. The evidence was overwhelming and presumably led to his guilty plea. His failure to take responsibility for what really happened is both disturbing and telling.”
But Mirkarimi disputes the abuse.
According to his media interviews, Mirkarimi says he and his wife, Eliana Lopez, got into a "horrible quarrel" as they drove to lunch on New Year's Eve with their 2-year-old son, Theo. Lopez said she wanted to take Theo to her native Venezuela for an extended stay, which upset Mirkarimi because her last trip had lasted two months.
Mirkarimi says his wife also told him during the drive that she had hired an attorney, which he said hit him like an "atom bomb."
He said he turned the car around and drove home, against his wife's wishes, explaining that he didn't want to continue the argument in a public setting. Mirkarimi saids the argument became heated, and he admitted swearing at Lopez. He said their son had become upset, and said the boy "was panicked" when Lopez went to take him from his car seat.
That, Mirkarimi says, is when he grabbed his wife's arm.
"I reached over from the driver's seat, still with my seat belt on, to put my hand underneath her arm to try to guide her back into the passenger's seat so we could just de-escalate this and talk this through," he said.
The move bruised his wife's arm, something he now regrets.
Gascon had originally charged Mirkarimi with misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery, dissuading a witness and endangering a child. Gascon had dropped those charges in exchange for a plea deal in which Mirkarimi admitted he was guilty of false imprisonment, also a misdemeanor. He acknowledged that, he said, for not turning the car around when his wife wanted him to.
But according to Mirkarimi, he said his wife went to a neighbor, Ivory Madison, the day after New Year's and agreed to be videotaped telling her story. Mirkarimi disputes what Lopez said during the video, claiming he has never had a physical altercation with her before, though they had argued.
"I'm destroyed inside out," Mirakrimi said in his media interviews. "I thought I was more tender, more caring, not as gruff or abrasive, not as testosterone-packed."
A day after the guilty plea, Mayor Ed Lee told him to resign or he would be suspended. Mirkarimi says the mayor never asked what happened, and that he was blindsided by the move. He says he refuses to resign, and is now fighting that suspension.
The city Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors will ultimately decide Mirkarimi's fate.
You can listen to Mirkarimi's full interview with KQED below or here.