SAN FRANCISCO — Without warning or hesitation, David DePape swings a hammer, slamming it into the head of Paul Pelosi as San Francisco police officers stand nearby, attempting to defuse the early morning confrontation in the doorway of Nancy Pelosi’s family home.
The images from the SFPD bodycams are stunning. The video was made public Friday morning after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Murphy — at the legal urging of news outlets — ruled there was no reason to keep the footage secret.
The early morning break-in and assault on Oct. 28 at the Pelosi’s Pacific Heights home feels shockwaves across the nation’s divided political landscape.
Along with the body cam video, the release of evidence included the 911 call, home security footage, and a portion of an interview conducted with DePape.
During the 9-1-1 call, Pelosi is heard calmly trying to relay information to the dispatcher.
“This is San Francisco police,” the dispatcher said. “Do you need help?”
“Well, there’s a gentleman here,” answered Paul Pelosi. “Who is waiting for my wife to come back. Nancy Pelosi.”
For about three minutes, Pelosi tries to explain what’s unfolding to the dispatcher.
“I’ve got a problem,” he said. “But he thinks everything’s good.”
At one point, DePape even joins in on the conversation.
“My name is David,” he said aloud.
“And who is David,” the dispatcher asked.
“I don’t know,” Pelosi said.”
“I’m a friend of theirs,” DePape added.
“He wants me to get the hell off the phone,” Pelosi finally says.
The police body camera video shows officers approaching the home and knocking on the front door. After a few seconds, the front door opens, revealing Pelosi standing alongside DePape. Both are holding onto a hammer, and DePape is gripping Pelosi’s wrist.
The police exchange a few words with the men, and officers order DePape to drop the hammer.
“Um, nope,” DePape responds, yanking the hammer away and swinging it at Pelosi.
Police then rush into the home and pull DePape off Pelosi, who remained on the floor. Police can be heard requesting backup as they handcuffed DePape.
The 82-year-old Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and injuries to his arms and hands and underwent surgery after the attack. DePape, 42, allegedly broke into the home shortly after 2 am and demanded to know where the congresswoman was. Paul Pelosi was eventually able to make a surreptitious 911 call that authorities have said likely saved his life.
The home security footage shows DePape walking up to a back patio door and peering inside before walking away and retrieving two backpacks. DePape is then seen putting on gloves and breaking the glass of the patio door before entering the home.
Security camera video (edited for brevity):
But both sides in the case objected to the release of the images.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office argued releasing the footage publicly would only allow people to manipulate it in their quest to spread false information.
Public defender Adam Lipson, who is representing DePape, released an additional statement Friday.
“I think it was a terrible mistake to release this evidence, and in particular the video. Releasing this footage is disrespectful to Mr. Pelosi, and serves no purpose except to feed the public desire for spectacle and violence,” the statement read. “The footage is inflammatory and could feed unfounded theories about this case, and we are extremely concerned about Mr. DePape’s ability to get a fair trial.”
“It’s a concern for the defense, and that, in turn, becomes a concern for the district attorney,” explained attorney and former Federal Prosecutor Tony Brass. “Because the district attorney does not want to provide a change of venue motion to the defense, who can then take a case on the road someplace, when it’s a legitimate San Francisco case.”
Authorities said DePape intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and told officers he wanted to “break her kneecaps.” The congresswoman was in Washington, DC, at the time of the home invasion and attack. She announced the following month she was stepping down from Democratic leadership, though remaining in Congress.
Also released Friday was a recording of the SFPD interview of DePape
After reading him his rights, police ask DePape how he ended up at the Pelosi home, which prompted DePape to complain about dishonesty in Washington, and Nancy Pelosi lying about Donald Trump.
They go from one crime, to another crime, to another time, to another crime,” DePape says in the recording. “It’s just like the whole f—–g four years, until they could finally steal the election.”
From there, DePape outlined a plan to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, saying he knew he was on camera at the Pelosi home, and that Paul Pelosi only woke up when he reached the bedroom.
“And so then he basically wakes up,” DePape said. “And we’re kind of talking. I don’t really have the specifics, but like, vaguely, I kind of told him that I was looking for Nancy Pelosi. And he’s like, ‘she’s not here.'”
DePape said he also knew the 9-1-1 call was certain to bring the police.
“There’s no way they got that f—–g phone call and they ain’t f—–g coming here,” he said during the questioning.
“Why didn’t you think about leaving,” San Francisco Police asked. “You knew they were coming. Why not just leave?”
“It’s like the founding fathers,” DePape answered. “They fought the British. They fought the tyranny. They didn’t just f—–g surrender to it. And when I left my house, I left to go fight tyranny. I did not leave to go surrender.”
Finally, DePape described the encounter at the front door, saying he thought Pelosi let his guard down upon seeing police, and that he tried to hit Pelosi full force.
“It’s like, I didn’t come to surrender,” DePape said. “And I told him that I would go through him. So I basically yanked it away from him, and I hit him.”
Depape has pleaded not guilty to a list of state and federal charges. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 23rd.
Meanwhile, there is a parallel prosecution going on in federal court where the Richmond man has been charged with assault and attempted kidnapping. Hey has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is being held without bail.
At DePape’s preliminary hearing, officer Kyle Cagney — who was among those who responded to the home — described the doorway confrontation and displayed the hammer to the courtroom.
Prosecutors say an enraged DePape allegedly broke into the home searching for the former House speaker, who was in Washington at the time.
Court records say the San Francisco police “recovered zip ties in Pelosi’s bedroom and in the hallway near the front door of the Pelosi residence” and found “a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal” in his backpack.
Since undergoing surgery hours after the attack, Paul Pelosi has been recovering mostly in private away from the limelight.
Nancy Pelosi told reporters her husband’s well-being was paramount and she did not know if she would view the video once it was released.
“With a grateful heart and on behalf of my entire family, that we continue to thank people for all of their prayers that they continue to send us,” she said. “Asking about the progress my husband is making. And he is making progress, but it will take more time.”
“As you know, today, there was a release of some information. I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the conversion. I have not seen the break in. And I have absolutely no intention of seeing the deadly assault on my husband’s life. I won’t be making any more statements about this case. As it proceeds, except to again, thank people and inform them of Paul’s progress. But that will be the end of what I’ll say about the case. “
Wilson Walker contributed to this report.