The man accused of trying to murder the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer in their California home defied orders from police to drop the tool seconds before the attack, according to graphic and disturbing police-worn body camera footage.
David DePape, 42, is accused of breaking into the Pelosi’s home and violently attacking Paul Pelosi, 82, who was asleep at the time. Police arrived at the home in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2022, and reportedly encountered DePape and Pelosi struggling for control of a hammer.
Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and other injuries. DePape is believed to have been targeting Nancy Pelosi, who was not home at the time. DePape was reportedly equipped with zip ties at the time of the break-in, and according to a federal filing, he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and break her kneecaps if he felt she was lying to him.
Police-worn body camera footage shows what happened after Paul Pelosi, appearing to be wearing pajamas, opened the front door. He appears to be trying to get control over a hammer in DePape’s right hand.
“What’s going on, man?” a police officer can be heard saying shortly after the front door opens. “Drop the hammer.”
“Ummmmm, nope,” DePape says. The struggle between him and Paul Pelosi begins to escalate, and Pelosi can be heard saying “hey, hey hey hey” to DePape in an apparent effort to stop him.
“What is going on right now?” a police officer is heard saying just as DePape strikes Paul Pelosi with the hammer. At that point, police officers run into the house and get DePape on the ground.
Paul Pelosi is seen lying on the ground. He is not moving, although he is visibly breathing and, toward the end of the video, can be heard groaning.
California prosecutors have charged him DePape with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and burglary. He is also facing federal charges, including assaulting an immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official.
The footage largely reflects what has already been said in the criminal complaints against DePape. According to a federal affidavit, DePape entered the residence through a sliding glass door by using the hammer he brought with him. He allegedly admitted to San Francisco Police that he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and break her kneecaps if she lied to him.
According to prosecutors, DePape apparently believed that the then-House Speaker would lie, but claimed he would let her go if she told him the “truth.” DePape reportedly had a long history of posting right-wing and fringe conspiracy theories, reflecting animus toward Black people, Jewish people, Democrats, media organizations, and transgender people.
“Where is Nancy?” DePape allegedly yelled after breaking into the house. Paul Pelosi managed to take temporary refuge in a bathroom and called 911.
“In the approximately two-and-a-half minute phone call, Mr. Pelosi conveyed to the dispatch officer that there was an unknown man in his residence,” a federal document describing the incident says. “Mr. Pelosi also conveyed that the man was looking for Mr. Pelosi’s wife, that Mr. Pelosi’s wife was Speaker Pelosi who would not ‘be there for days,’ and that the man said he would ‘wait’ for Speaker Pelosi. Mr. Pelosi made clear in the 9-1-1 call that he did not know who the man was.”
During this call, DePape could reportedly be heard in the background giving his name as “David” and saying he was a “friend,” the document says. Pelosi confirmed to the dispatcher that he didn’t know the man.
“The police arrived and knocked on the door, and Pelosi ran over and opened it,” the federal affidavit says. “Pelosi grabbed onto DEPAPE’s hammer, which was in DEPAPE’s hand […] DEPAPE stated that he pulled the hammer away from Pelosi and swung the hammer towards Pelosi. DEPAPE explained that Pelosi’s actions resulted in Pelosi ‘taking the punishment instead [of Nancy Pelosi].'”
The video was released to the public Friday, after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Murphy ruled in favor of media organizations requesting the footage, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Murphy reportedly noted that the footage had already been played at a preliminary hearing in December 2022.
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