San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's trial on domestic violence charges will begin on Feb. 24.
His trial date was set Monday morning, four days after he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. During last week's hearing, a judge barred him from having any contact with his wife and two-year-old son.
After Monday's hearing, Robert Waggener, Mirkarimi's attorney, told reporters, "This is one of the most overblown cases I’ve seen in 28 years in the building.”
Waggener told The Bay Citizen he is investigating the long history of political animosity between Mirkarimi and George Gascon, the San Francisco's District Attorney, which he said may come out during the trial.
According to court documents, Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, told a neighbor that he "pushed, pulled, and grabbed" her during an argument on Dec. 31, bruising her right arm. That neighbor, Ivory Madison, recorded video of the conversation and of Lopez's bruise. Three days later, on Jan. 4., Madison contacted police, setting off an investigation, which has overshadowed Mirkarimi's tenure as sheriff. He was arrested on Jan. 13, five days after he was sworn into office.
Waggener suggested the trial will address why Lopez's bruise does not constitute domestic violence.
Both Mirkarimi and Lopez have denied the abuse allegations. During Thursday's hearing, a tearful Lopez told Judge Susan Breall, “I’m not afraid of my husband at all. I’m not in danger."
Outside of court last week, Lopez, who has acted in Venezuelan soap operas, told reporters, "I know what domestic violence is and the real violence here is against me. It's to pull a family apart. And this country has not allowed me to work on my marriage in a healthy way. Everybody's using my family, myself, in a political game just for destroy Ross."
Waggener said Thursday his client has no intention of resigning or taking a temporary leave of absence from his job. Mirkarimi, a peace officer, has had to surrender his guns for the duration of the legal proceedings.
After his arrest, Mirkarimi invoked his right to a speedy trial.