March 22, 2023

Prosecutors say DePape broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home in late October and struck Paul Pelosi on the head with a hammer after demanding to know the whereabouts of the congresswoman, who was in Washington, D.C. A bevy of state and federal charges could send him to prison for life.

A press coalition that includes POLITICO sought the release of body camera footage from responding San Francisco Police Department officers, audio of Paul Pelosi’s 911 call, surveillance footage from the Pelosi home and audio of DePape’s police interview.

The body camera footage shows Paul Pelosi and DePape both grasping a hammer when officers arrived at the Pelosi residence in the early morning hours of Oct. 28. Officers order the men to drop the hammer, and DePape says “nope” before turning it and swinging at Paul, after which both men topple to the floor and an officer calls for a medic.

In footage from a Capitol Police surveillance camera, DePape can be seen taking a hammer and what appears to be a handful of zip ties out of the bags he brought with him. DePape told officers he intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi. At the end of the video, DePape can be seen repeatedly swinging the hammer against the exterior of the Pelosi residence and then climbing inside.

In a police interview shortly after the attack, DePape describes his anger toward Nancy Pelosi as “leader of the pack” of political figures who were “lying on a consistent basis,” including by seeking to undermine former President Donald Trump. He planned to kidnap the congresswoman and break her kneecaps if she did not tell him the truth.

He accuses Democrats of “spying on a rival campaign” and “submitting fake evidence” to advance that effort, in a seeming reference to an investigation into the Trump campaigns ties to Russia.

“The person who was on the TV lying every day was Pelosi,” DePape said.

DePape is calm and lucid in the interview, although he appears to fight tears when describing his animosity toward Democrats. He said he knew officers would be on the way after the 911 call but decided to stay anyway, likening himself to American revolutionaries. “When I left my house, I left to go fight tyranny,” he said. “I did not leave to go surrender.“

Officers were summoned to the house after a call from Paul Pelosi. In audio from that call, Paul Pelosi says “there’s a gentleman here just waiting for my wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi.” He says he does not know DePape and ends the call shortly after noting DePape is telling him “not to do anything” and “to just put the phone down and do what he says.”

One of the responding officers testified in December that he saw Paul Pelosi lying face down with a “pool of blood” blooming around his head. The 82-year-old underwent surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his head and arm. Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s Chris Wallace this month that her husband was still working to “get back to normal” after the head injury.

The break-in and attack stunned San Francisco and reverberated through national politics, punctuating a torrent of violent rhetoric directed at Nancy Pelosi and other elected officials.

DePape, who entered a not guilty plea, said he targeted the congresswoman because she was second in line for the presidency and that she embodied “evil in Washington,” revealing his plans to break her kneecaps, according to prosecutors’ evidence.

He also told police he wanted to go after others including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

DePape’s online history shows him becoming immersed in extremist and Trump-aligned narratives like the QAnon conspiracy theory. He is being held without bail pending a trial, with a date likely to be set in February.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office and DePape’s public defender sought to prevent the evidence from being released to media organizations by asserting it could undermine his ability to get a fair trial. They argued it could be manipulated and foment conspiracy theories.

“The evidence of the crime could easily, once released into the public, be changed so that members of the jury pool would see an inaccurate piece of evidence from this trial before the trial even starts,” assistant district attorney Phoebe Maffei argued.

Judge Stephen M. Murphy disagreed, saying such arguments amounted to “speculation.”

“I fail to see, in this case, how release of these exhibits will impact the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Murphy said.

Conspiracy theories have shrouded the case from the beginning, as unsupported assertions about a coverup or an undisclosed third person in the home proliferated on social media.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has warned about misinformation, and DePape’s attorney Adam Lipson on Wednesday lamented “the myriad of false conspiracy theories that have been propagated regarding this case already.”

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