SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The neighbors who played a key role in the domestic violence case involving San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi are suing the sheriff and his wife, Eliana Lopez, claiming defamation.
Ivory Madison and her husband, Abraham Mertens, allege in their suit filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court that they were defamed when the sheriff and his wife falsely stated that Madison and her husband engaged in unethical behavior, practiced law without a license and lied to the police.
The incident and ensuing scandal began to unfold on New Year’s Eve 2011, when Mirkarimi and Lopez argued over whether she could travel to her native Venezuela with their toddler son.
Mirkarimi later acknowledged grabbing his wife’s arm with an overly firm grip during the argument.
The next day, Lopez confided to Madison about the incident, and Madison later contacted police. Authorities eventually confiscated video Madison had taken, along with text messages and emails between the two women.
The video shows Lopez tearfully pointing to a bruise on her right bicep, where she said Mirkarimi had grabbed her.
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, a retraction of what it says were false and defamatory statements, and a prohibition of future defamation.
Shepard Kopp, an attorney representing Mirkarimi, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he expected the suit to be dismissed.
Paula Canny, an attorney who represented Lopez, told the newspaper she was surprised by the suit.
Kopp and Canny did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
A message left for Mertens by the AP was not immediately returned. Mertens is a lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of himself and his wife.
Mirkarimi was suspended without pay in March after reaching a plea deal and agreeing to plead guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment over the incident.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tried to have Mirkarimi permanently removed from office, but his bid failed in October when the Board of Supervisors narrowly voted to give Mirkarimi his job back.