The man who allegedly attacked the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was “evil in Washington” and he didn’t plan to target Paul Pelosi, a San Francisco police sergeant testified Wednesday.
The suspect, David DePape, broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco, California home on October 28, seeking to kidnap the speaker – who was out of town – and instead beat her 82-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer, authorities said. The violence sent shock waves through the political world.
DePape, wearing an orange jumpsuit during a preliminary hearing in state court, has pleaded not guilty to federal and state charges, including attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He remains held without bail.
Sergeant Carla Hurley, who interviewed DePape for an hour the day of the attack, said the defendant told her that he was seeking the speaker and told her husband that he was not part of the plan.
Still, DePape told Paul Pelosi, “I can take you out, I can take you out,” Hurley testified.
Hurley said DePape told her that after he saw the lights of a police patrol car, he told Paul Pelosi, “I’m not going to surrender, I am here to fight. If you stop me from going after people, you will take the punishment instead.”
Prosecutors presented the hammer that was allegedly used in the assault during Wednesday’s proceedings, which were attended by Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis’ five adult children.
The district attorney’s office also played audio of Paul Pelosi’s call to the 911 emergency line in the courtroom and showed video footage — less than a minute long — of the attack that was captured on body cameras. The 911 dispatcher has been widely credited with sending two officers to the couple’s home despite limited information.
In November, Nancy Pelosi had said she would step down as the Democrats’ leader after 20 years as the party’s head. Paul Pelosi, her husband of nearly 60 years, drew a standing ovation earlier this month when the couple attended the Kennedy Center Honors, an awards event in Washington, DC — his first public appearance since the assault. Christine Pelosi, a Democratic operative, attorney and Nancy’s daughter, is considered to be a potential successor when the speaker retires, though she has never held elected office.
DePape told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had plans to target other California and federal politicians, court documents say. Authorities have said he was drawn to conspiracy theories.
DePape allegedly smashed his way into the Pelosis’ home, confronted Paul Pelosi, who was sleeping in boxer shorts and a pajama top, and demanded to know where “Nancy” was.
DePape allegedly then told Paul Pelosi that if Nancy Pelosi told him the “‘truth’, he would let her go and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break her kneecaps”, the criminal complaint alleges.
Paul Pelosi was eventually able to call 911 to summon San Francisco police. Officers arrived two minutes later to see the two men struggling over a hammer, and then DePape struck Pelosi at least once before being tackled by officers.
San Francisco Police Officer Kyle Cagney, who was one of two first responding officers, on Wednesday testified that he saw both men holding the hammer when the door opened. DePape did not follow the officers’ commands to drop the weapon and instead lunged at Paul Pelosi and swung the hammer at him, Cagney said.
Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious and woke up in a pool of his own blood. He later underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.
Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members. Threats against lawmakers and elections officials have been at all-time highs since the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the US.
One of the judges in DePape’s state case, Judge Loretta “Lori” Giorgi, disclosed last month that she had worked with Christine Pelosi in the San Francisco city attorney’s office in the 1990s but they had not interacted in years. Although neither side officially objected to Giorgi, the case was transferred to a new judge – which is common practice – for the preliminary hearing.