SAN FRANCISCO -- Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's future is set to be determined Tuesday when his former colleagues at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decide whether his fight with his wife last winter is a crime that should cost him his job.

Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, a former Venezuelan soap star who ended up with a bruised arm after Mirkarimi grabbed her during the Dec. 31 argument, plans to be at her husband's side during the 2 p.m. hearing, as well as at a noon rally for supporters on the City Hall steps.

"Of course, I'm going to be there," she said in an interview Monday. "I'm going to be there because what is happening is wrong."

Mirkarimi, a former supervisor, had been newly elected as sheriff and was one week shy of his swearing-in ceremony when he and his wife had a loud and heated argument over Lopez's desire to take their toddler son to Venezuela for another visit with relatives. As she reached to get her son out of the minivan car seat, Mirkarimi grabbed her arm to stop her. He ended up pleading guilty last spring to a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment. When he refused to resign, Mayor Ed Lee suspended him and took the case to the city Ethics Commission, which determined this summer that Mirkarimi was guilty of official misconduct. After hearing testimony from the Ethics Commission, the mayor and Mirkarimi's lawyers, as well as public comment, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will vote whether to remove him from his job.


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Nine of 11 votes are needed to do so.

"We're all on pins and needles," Mirkarimi said in an interview Monday. "It's been such a hard saga on me and my family."

The case galvanized advocates for domestic abuse victims, who were outraged early on when Mirkarimi called the case a "private matter" and rallied against him Monday -- on the same City Hall steps where Mirkarimi will rally Tuesday. They contend that Mirkarimi, who confessed to the crime and whose gun was taken away, is unfit for the job and lacks the moral authority to be a top law enforcement official.

"Someone on domestic violence probation who has repeatedly defended himself by minimizing the harm he did, does not have the credibility to oversee and lead the Sheriff's Department's programs," Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, said in prepared remarks Monday. "To have a convicted abuser in charge of any aspect of these programs is simply not tolerable, not for the victims or the batterers."

The case may have remained a family matter had Lopez not sought out her neighbor the day after the argument and made a tearful video about it. She said she intended the video to be an insurance policy of sorts in case the marriage fell apart and Mirkarimi fought for custody. Her strategy backfired, however, when the neighbor called police. For seven months, Mirkarimi was not allowed to see his wife and could spend only limited time with his son. With repeated requests from Lopez, who says she loves her husband and has forgiven him, a judge allowed the family to reunite in August.

"Maybe it was personal misconduct. That is something between Ross and me," Lopez said. "But this is not official misconduct. This process is wrong."

Mirkarimi has been punished enough for his behavior, the couple has said. The seven months apart were especially grueling, he said, and politically motivated. "I still don't think people understand how that was coerced upon us as a way of breaking my spirit so I would walk away from my job as sheriff," Mirkarimi said.

If he loses his job, the couple hasn't decided what they will do.

"I think we are going to be OK whatever happens," Lopez said. "After we were able to be together again, it's like we are already winning because we are together. But this is not anymore about only my family."

Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409 or follow her on twitter @juliasulek.