City case speculates about Mirkarimi's interference with investigation

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has faced intense media scrutiny, but now the matter moves into the realm of evidence.
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

The City Attorney's Office laid out much of its case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi yesterday when it released a list of witnesses and their expected testimony, as requested by the Ethics Commission, and it offers little support for the city's accusation that Mirkarimi dissuaded witnesses or sought to destroy evidence of a crime, which are among the most serious allegations in the official misconduct case against him.

The longest and most significant section in the brief was the testimony of Ivory Madison, the neighbor who initiated the police investigation into whether Mirkarimi physically abused his wife, Eliana Lopez, during a Dec. 31 incident that she subsequent reported to Madison, who made a video of her story and a bruise on her arm.

It was the most detailed account yet of what happened from the perspective of Madison, who has refused media interviews, and it differs in some key areas from accounts that Mirkarimi gave to the Guardian and other media outlets.

For example, Mirkarimi said he grabbed his wife's arm in the car during a heated argument and that tempers had cooled by the time they went inside. But Madison is expected to testify that, “Inside the house, Sheriff Mirkarimi pushed, pulled and grabbed Ms. Lopez, who was crying and screaming, as was their son. Ms. Lopez asked Sheriff Mirkarimi to stop, and said look what you're doing to our son. Ms. Lopez then ran out of the house. While both inside and outside the house, Lopez was yelling, do you want me to call the police. When Ms. Lopez yelled about calling the police while outside, Sheriff Mirkarimi said no, come inside. Ms Lopez went back inside.”

It is unclear from the memo whether Madison was a direct witness to those events or whether they were relayed to her by Lopez, but it sounds like the latter given that the story is in a paragraph that began with the phrase “According to Ms. Lopez.” Since the incident, Lopez has consistently denied that Mirkarimi abused her and downplayed the conflict. The only other neighbor on the witness list, Callie Williams, wasn't at home during the conflict, but she's expected to testify that Lopez told her about that and an earlier instance of abuse and that “Sheriff Mirkarimi was scared that she was going to tell people what happened.”

While Madison's expected testimony confirms Lopez's account that the video was made to be used in the event of a child custody battle if the couple divorced, Madison's account paints Lopez as actively worried about her safety: “Ms. Madison suggested calling the police. Ms. Lopez was afraid that the police would not believe her and would not protect her from Sheriff Mirkarimi, and was concerned about what the police could do to protect her.”

It also confirms what journalist Phil Bronstein, a friend Madison called for advice, told the Guardian about Madison's initial call to police being a simple inquiry and that she didn't intend to initiate a police investigation just yet. And it indicates that “Ms. Lopez was unhappy about the investigation. Ms. Lopez called Linnette Peralta Haynes (Sheriff Mirkarimi's campaign manager in the November 2011 election) on her mobile phone. After speaking with Ms. Haynes, Ms. Lopez handed her phone to Ms. Madison. Ms. Haynes attempted to dissuade Ms. Madison from cooperating with the police and attempted to persuade Ms. Madison to lie to the police.”

Yet there is nothing in Madison's expected testimony to indicate Mirkarimi was behind any of these efforts, and he denies it and says that he wasn't even aware that Lopez had talked to Madison or made a video or that police had been called at that point. Peralta Haynes, who sources say is in the late stage of a difficult pregnancy, hasn't cooperated with the investigation so it's obviously speculative on the city's part to indicate that she was acting as Mirkarimi's “agent” in thwarting the investigation, as the city is claiming.

The only “evidence” that the city seems to offer in support of its accusation that Mirkarimi tried to thwart the criminal investigation comes from Madison's husband, Abraham Mertens, who is expected to repeat the claim he first made in a controversial March 20 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle that, “During the time that SFPD inspectors were interviewing Ms. Madison on January 4, Mr. Mertens received a telephone call from Eliana Lopez urging him to make Ms. Madison stop talking to the police. Mr. Mertens heard Sheriff Mirkarimi's voice in the background,” a more resolute version than Mertens had previously given when he wrote in the op-ed: “I recognized what I thought was Ross' voice in the background.” Mertens also has not answered Guardian calls.

Mirkarimi categorically denies that he was present during that phone call and says that he was in meetings at City Hall and that he wasn't aware that any of this was happening at the time. And he has denied urging Peralta Hayes to get involved, but her testimony could evolve into evidence if the city can show they talked before she spoke to Madison, but that's still speculative. The city is seeking live testimony from Peralta Haynes about her communications with Mirkarimi on Jan. 4 and before.

During the recent Ethics Commission hearing on setting up procedures for the hearing, Mirkarimi attorney Shepherd Kopp noted that the city hadn't done key interviews or collected physical evidence (such as phone records or the Lopez video) to support its charges against Mirkarimi before making its allegation, something that Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith didn't dispute, noting that the the city had not yet received much of the evidence that it intends to present, such as the video.

The city appears to be banking on compelling incriminating testimony from Lopez and Mirkarimi, who they plan to treat as hostile witnesses. The other interesting name on the city's witness list was Mayor Ed Lee, who the city is recommending give live testimony and who could also likely be subjected to a vigorous cross-examination that could have interesting political ramifications.


Lopez continues her "see no evil, hear no evil" position. Obviously she changed her posture half way through this and that damages her credibility.

The story that Ross tried to hush everyone up was made available months ago and the crime he admitted to - false inprisonment - is effectively an attempt to prevent his wife from seeking help or calling the police. You may be aware that preventing someone calling the cops is itself a crime, as of course is witness tampering - another charge that was made were pled out.

It's hard to conceive of what evidence Ross can offer that will indicate that none of this happened at all, and they were really one big happy family. While emanwhile, of course, there is no indication that Lopez is ever returning, and who could blame her for that?

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

You're in for a surprise. Madison makes it up as she goes along. Wait and see.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

no reason to lie, unlike Ross and Eliana.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

Madison's versions are consistent with what we know and observed about Mirkarimi, who admitted to the common perception of him being a city hall bully (even his first lawyer called him a tyrant).

Ross's version of him calmly 'guiding' his wife by the arm is the one that seems out of place.

BTW, what's up with them fighting in the car with the kid in the back seat? Can you imagine how disconcerting that is to the kid? Didn't either one of them have the maturity to say "Let's get the kid home first" and then settle this mano a mano?

Posted by Troll on May. 02, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

Ross and his lawyers have had 4 months to come up with a spin on his abuse and that's the best they can come up with?

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 5:47 am

According to the only two witnesses, Ross had calmed down by the time they arrived home while Eliana was still agitated. Given his wife's state of mind as she rushed out to take Theo from his car seat, Ross was understandably concerned about his son. That's why he reached out to restrain her. Is that so hard to understand?

I know you're incapable of entertaining any other explanation than the one you've latched on to. But ask yourself, why the hell did Eliana ask to be granted immunity if this hadn't happened? Eliana was prepared to back up Ross's version of events, but through bad advice from their lawyers and the media circus that followed, their voices were effectively silenced. So the only two people who were present and know the truth about what occurred, have been discounted, while you trolls concoct another, more sinister narrative to wreak maximum damage on a family and a couple who obviously want to be together. Shame on you!

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

her? A state of anxiety is consistent with her claim that he attacked her.

Eliana and Ross do not share the "same" side of the story. She could have stayed here and backed him up but instead she ran away and hired lawyers.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

Madison is a prevaricator. She makes it up as she goes along. She's a liar. She definitely persuaded Eliana of being a lawyer. She misrepresents herself as an attorney and brags about being on Law Review, Superior court internship, and child custody case experience. Don't kid yourself. Ivory has plenty at stake and she stuck the confidential custody video right in their faces never mentioning she obtained it under false misrepresentation. Any chance Madison will tell the truth about portraying herself as a lawyer? Zero.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

Madison is a publicity seeker who is out of her league. She wants one thing and that is to save her business. Any money or attention is welcome. The reward she most deserves is to go into obscurity.

Turning in you neighbor is no way to sell third rate comics. Try talent but then she has got none so relies on betrayal.

Cheap and disgusting.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 5:46 am

She sucks at it. Honestly think about it. How many interviews has she given? How many talk radio show appearances has she done? Her husband wrote one, count it, one OP-ed piece as a response to all the venom that has come after her.

If she really wanted publicity she would be all over the place with her story. She isn't.

Posted by Dnative on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:36 am

I have been reading all the articles on this matter for months. I see very little venom in the media and lots of publicity. Before this fiasco I never saw her name in papers and had no idea who Madison is. Now she is all over the media; generally in a very favorable way.

Publicity is what she wanted and got. What is the going price? Thirty pieces of silver I believe.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 10:26 am

She potentially saved Eliana's life so would be forgiven if she made a big deal out of it. Yet she has remained respectfully modest and unassuming.

That strength of character gives added weight to the probity of her testimony. While Ross has just dug himself deeper and deeper, and Eliana has "ran away".

Posted by Anonymous on May. 05, 2012 @ 10:49 am

Madison is the D.A.'s tool. She was ordered to shut her trap.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

is there willingness to distort the record and fabricate "facts," as exemplified by the above.

The dissembling is so tiresome. At least two-thirds of these jokers care only about furthering a greed-based and ignorant political agenda and they cannot even see how despicable it is exploit domestic violence as an issue to do so.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 9:46 am

We're not Mikarimi haters - we're wife abouser haters. Oops - it's they are one in the same.

Dissembling is telling the fairy tale about gently guiding his wife back into the house.

Also, she was the one who went to Madison's house - Madison did not seek out Elena.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:16 am

' ...gently guiding his wife back into the house. '

Huh?! You are no social worker. She wants, again in case you don't read so well, Eliana WANTS to come back to her HOME but the court put that stupid restraining order against her will. So, stop with your infantile rumor mongering.

In fact no social worker in any child protective services in the Bay Area would even consider this to amount to breaking up the family which is totally archaic and Neanderthal approach to dealing with domestic violence issues. Far more success in current methods help save families, rapid healing of all family members and saves the taxpayers a whole lot of money. Win-win for all.

But in this case, everyone from Ivory Madison to Phil Bronstein to DA George Gascon to City Attorney Dennis Attorney to Mayor Lee and all the cronies in between and behind them has shown their inexperience and lack of education in these matters whenbthe experts at many VPS agencies have deemed this to be fairly insignificant compared to real domestic violence where harm is considerably apparent and is conflict between the parents is maintained. In this case, there is NO CONFLICT between the parents .

So, it's time to get real, stop the spin and being a HELLO!

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

wishes. It's Ross who can't be there. Except now of course because Eliana isn't there.

If Eliana wanted reconciliation, she'd be here fighting for Ross not hanging out in Caracas with 4 lawyers on retainer.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:49 pm


Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Madison didn't seek out Eliana? Hah. Madison harassed Eliana repeatedly to get to her house, texts, cell calls, even threatened to come and drag her to her own lair. The couple's 15 minute argument was long over but attorney Madison harped about custody evidence. Madison had the Panasonic all set up. Eliana said no thanks. Madison persisted promising to lock up the custody video and nobody would ever see it. Madison was no friend, she's Linda Tripp.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

I have never been a big Ross fan. But my concern is not to be vindicative against Ross. The Court has sentenced him and given him a fair punishment for his crime. My concern is that he is not fit to be in office.

As for distortion. I think both sides are very guilty of that. I have seen pro-Ross posters trying to argue that the conviction is not domestic violence related. One talk show host likes to call the bruise a "bicep pinch" and minimizes his behavior.

The facts are the facts- As a law enforcement officer it is unacceptable for Ross to be on probation and convicted of a DV related crime. Come back in 4 years when you have completed probation and you have graduated from counseling and we can reconsider.

Posted by Dnative on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:35 am

Sure Dnative, say that Mirkarimi's crime is "domestic violence-related," but it is well that you are not claiming that that is the same as "domestic violence" -- are you?

And it is important to note, as so many Mirkarimi haters forget, that he *was* *not* convicted of domestic violence -- and that furthermore to dispute that there is a difference between being convicted and being charged is vile, craven and unAmerican.

(So much psychological corruption among the Mirkarimi haters.)

In the past I've posted links to news stories where police or other sworn officers or even a sheriff perservered in their posts even after chargement and conviction in far more serious and nakedly violent cases than has *ever* been alleged in this case, let alone proven.

But I get it: you are a "Mirkarimi non-fan" and not a Mirkarimi hater. Okay.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

You can say he wasn't convicted of DV itself- true- but you then ignore the fact that the judge imposed DV counseling.

Posted by Dnative on May. 03, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

"Domestic violence related" means there was yelling and arm grabbing involved... and that furthermore that either those aren't the kind of things that it is normal to expect people to get a DV conviction -- or that there wasn't evidence to do so available to the DA. Whichever.

I ignore nothing. Least of all the hypocrisy of Mirkarimi haters in their sundry manifestations.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

But the Judge who imposed the sentence disagrees with you. And I guess Ross himself. He has admitted to grabbing her arm and being int he wrong. He accepted the plea deal that included the counseling. He has owned up to his issues. The only ones in denial that he committed a DV crime are his supporters.

Posted by D. native on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

What a novel legal theory, now the sentence determines the crime!

Posted by marcos on May. 03, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

Would you have given Ross the standard DUI sentence?

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

The sentence reflects the circumstances of the crime. Hence the DV counseling.

Posted by D. native on May. 03, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

D.V. is the latest handle. It's all the same, identical to anger management classes of 2009.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

You read the SFBG analysis of this case, including this article with conclusions based on 'expected testimony' and you think that Ed Lee must be a complete fool, especially on legal matters. But he isn't. And he doesn't seem to be backing away from this case. So it might not play out as 'expected' for the SFBG team. But then again nothing else either has for the past decade.

Posted by Troll on May. 02, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

massive spin and damage control that the SFBG has given to their favorite wife beater. With friends like them, who needs enemies?

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

Maybe Ross' and Ivory's versions of the fight are so widely divergent because Eliana is the big liar here? That would explain Eliana's actions: 1) frantically trying to "dissuade" Ivory from releasing the tape or talk to the police; 2) denouncing the DV investigation as a "political coup;" 3) hiring four lawyers; 4) refusing to testify under oath at the trial; 5) claiming to be "disempowered" by the system; 6) fleeing to Venezuela, and staying there; thereby reducing Theo's contacts with his father to Skype. She managed to get sympathy playing both sides of the "victim" card, wreak havoc on the lives of family and friends, and get what she wanted--to take Theo away from Ross.

The "progressives" aren't so much apologists for Ross as they are for Eliana. And they don't see their own sexism.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

Madison and Mertens know nothing first hand. That is a fact which we all know about. What Merthens thought he heard isn't worth one dime.

From all I have heard this whole thing was made up by Lopez. The more I see the more obvious it is that she made the whole thing up.

1) There is no proof the so called bruise was even real. No doctor examined it and a little bit of makeup would do the same.
2) Lopez wanted child custody and to move back to Venezuela. She got both. Thanks to the incredibly gullible judges and politically motivated DA.
3) Even if the bruise was real there is no reason to think Mirkarimi did it. Ms. Lopez is just as likely to have self inflicted it.

Mirkarimi never pleaded to beating her. All he did was not turn the car around when she asked. In San Francisco this is "imprisonment". So all you drivers god help you if you got two passengers. One wants to go to south bay; the other to east bay. Either way you are going to be comitting "imprisonment" because you are not able to go to both places at once. What a crock the DV laws have become.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 5:40 am

Yes, she played everyone to get her way.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:35 am

My guess is that she just improvized this step by step. Ross definitely bruised here - we know this because he admitted it. Eliana planned to use that against Ross, by involving Madison. But I suspect she had little idea about SF's "zero tolerance" laws against DV, nor that Ross would lose his job and paycheck so easily. Even the SFBG staff were surprised by all that, evidently.

As soon as Eliana saw that events were starting to roll out of control, she clammed up and - effectively - ran away. She declined to give evidence against Ross because she needs Ross to have that 200K pa job to boost her alimony in a divorce.

The whole story is explainable thus.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:57 am

They don't care how insulting it is nor whether it's true (how could anyone possibly know Eliana's state of mind without knowing her personally?). And what would the trolls know about intelligence, since they rarely exhibit it?

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

And would infer from Eliana's actions that she intended to hose Ross but then things got out of hand. Eliana is screwed because Ross has no income for her to attach. She should have known that but she did not.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

Ross has admitted to grabbing her and causing said bruise. I would also note that Eliana has never come out with her version of the story. Apparently the version she told Ivory is pretty different than the one Ross is telling. Interesting.

At this point Merthens is a much more credible witness on the stand than Ross is. He has zero to lose. Ross has everything to lose and is in spin mode.

Posted by Dnative on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:39 am

The Madison and Merthens testimony shines thru like a beacon of light, relative to the Mirks.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 03, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Elena is happily esconced in her native Venezuela. I bet she stays there and raises her son there, as she has probably been planning for months, or years. This whole soap opera is starting to steer in that direction.

What has always puzzled me in this case: Why do so few of Ross' friends have his back? Why does he get so little support from the Progressive community?

Aside from Deborah Walker, Agnos, that whacky substitute talk-radio host, no one in the public eye is supporting him. I think he had such a bad reputation as a screamer and brow-beater whilst a supervisor that nobody wants to help him.

Meanwhile, Elena is back home, enacting a good soap opera ploy by comparing her tribulations to those suffered by her Dear Leader Hugo Chavez:

""I know how the media can create and influence public opinion to justify political actions. I saw that from the inside in 2002, when the privileged class used the media to justify a takeover of a democratically elected president and appointed one of their own to lead our country. I am shocked to witness the same formula being applied to my husband. In Spanish it is Golpe de Estado (coup d'etat), and that is what is happening to Ross."""

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 9:05 am

Agnos is a has-been and Walker is a "never has been".

With supporters like that, Ross is better off with his enemies.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 03, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

So has Gabriel Haaland and as you said, Art Agnos and Debra Walker. And there are plenty of others who support him as well. The progs on the BoS's can't weigh in because they will be acting as judges in this case. It's true that some progressives have been unsupportive, like Peskin (who's too busy calculating the political costs to progressive candidates). And Ross's old mentor Matt Gonzalez is too selfish to stick up for anyone but himself. However, Tim Redmond and Luke Thomas have posted articles questioning the political nature of the charges and persecution of Mr. Mirkarimi. And a host of Ross's supporters showed up for the first hearing by the Ethics Commission on this case. So, do us all a favor and get your facts straight before making an ass of yourself. Thanks.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 5:59 pm
Posted by Anonymous on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

You may be a bit too intellectually undeveloped to see it, but "middle-aged" isn't as sensible a character attack as is "callow youth." Punk.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

Why would it matter what any individual thinks?

Posted by Anonymous on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

Polls = poll = CBS push poll with a sloppy margin of error at that.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

If that poll came out the other way it would be brilliant and the best poll ever.

Posted by D. native on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

"if Mirkarimi was a Republican"... blah blah blah blah. Honestly, the Mirkarimi "non-fans" aren't really all that creative, are they?

With all the propaganda that the despicable Hearst rag has been promulgating, the target population of the poll were guaranteed to have had skewed opinions. Maybe it's just because I generally hang out with a more enlightened crowd, but just about everyone I've asked about this story thinks it is a joke what Lee has done.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2012 @ 10:17 am

Lili are you really going to use that old progressive standby. When you lose an election or a pillboxes against you, it is because the people just don't know any better. If they only knew what you knew or listened to you and reason then things would be so much better. Yes you and your enlightened crowd, another stand by. It can't possibly be that people equally as smart or smarter than you looked at the facts and simply cameo a different conclusion could it. Most people are against Ross and they have good reason to agree. We just disagree with you. Deal.

Posted by D. native on May. 05, 2012 @ 7:32 am

about Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling and the Enron debacle and scam. They had all the tricks at their disposal, all the rhetoric, but eventually reality caught up.

In their heyday they had plenty of fellow propagandists hailing their purity and invulnerability even as California was being strangled through their corruption and -- essentially -- and election was overturned.

I particularly liked the scene from Senate hearings when Senator Boxer spelled out the word "traders" so it wouldn't be confused with its quite applicable homophone.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 05, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Sure everyone is after Ross because of the "propaganda" in the papers. Not because they have looked at the facts and decided for themselves that he is not fit to be Sheriff. Got it. thanks

Posted by Dnative on May. 05, 2012 @ 8:34 am