By Tom Ozimek
A San Francisco judge has ordered that evidence relating to the attack on Paul Pelosi must be released to the public, including police body camera footage that was reportedly played in court and showed the suspect striking Pelosi with a hammer.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office must release the 911 audio calls, home surveillance video, and police body camera footage from the attack on Pelosi after a judge on Wednesday rejected a request from prosecutors to keep it secret, CBS Sacramento reported.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy also ruled that audio recordings of a police interview with the suspected assailant, David DePape, must be made public. It is unclear when the evidence will be unsealed.
Adam Lipson, DePape’s defense attorney, objected to the release of the evidence, arguing that it might impair his client’s ability to get a fair trial, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
DePape stands accused of breaking into Pelosi’s home on Oct. 28 and carrying out a brutal hammer attack against the 82-year-old husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The 42-year-old DePape faces state and federal charges including attempted murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.
Coalition of News Outlets Request Release of Evidence
Wednesday’s ruling came in response to a request by a group of media outlets to gain access to the footage.
The coalition of news organizations filed a court motion in San Francisco earlier in January to get access to the evidence, with attorneys for the outlets arguing in the motion that “the public and press have standing to assert their rights of access to court records and proceedings.”
That came after the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on Dec. 14 introduced audio and video evidence against DePape but refused to make it public.
The Dec. 14 preliminary hearing for DePape’s case featured audio from a 911 call made by Pelosi, body camera footage from responding officers, an interview with DePape, and footage from Capitol Police surveillance cameras as evidence.
The hammer DePape allegedly used in the attack was also displayed in court, while surveillance video played in court showed what is alleged to be DePape swinging the hammer over a dozen times to break the glass before gaining entry into Pelosi’s home.
DePape is accused of smashing the glass door of Pelosi’s home in Pacific Heights after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28 and later carrying out the brutal attack.
After DePape allegedly gained entry into the home, he awakened Paul Pelosi, who was in bed asleep, according to court documents.
DePape then asked him where his wife, Nancy Pelosi, was. He replied he didn’t know Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts so DePape said he’d wait, court documents show.
Police Lt. Carla Hurley, who interviewed DePape on the day of the attack, testified during the Dec. 14 hearing that DePape said he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and that he wanted to use the hammer to smash her kneecaps and put her in a wheelchair.
DePape mentioned other targets besides Nancy Pelosi, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Hurley said.
In the interview recording that was played in court, DePape was heard saying that he hadn’t “specifically” chosen Nancy Pelosi, while condemning the entire political establishment in Washington, railing against “scandal after scandal,” and calling the political atmosphere in the country “[expletive] insane.”
“There is evil in Washington,” DePape told Hurley, according to her court testimony.
‘I Didn’t Come Here to Surrender’
During the hearing, the judge repeated a point made by prosecutor Phoebe Maffei that DePape had come “to the Pelosi house to wipe out and teach a lesson to the people that he believes are corrupt.”
“I didn’t come here to surrender. If you stop me, it’s like stopping me from going after evil and you will take the punishment,” DePape said, according to Maffei.
After Paul Pelosi told DePape he didn’t know where his wife was, he asked to use the bathroom, according to court documents. DePape let him and, from the bathroom, Pelosi called 911.
In the 911 call played back in court, Paul Pelosi could be heard saying that “someone’s in the home, don’t know who he is,” later telling the operator that “he told me to put the phone down.”
Police arrived within minutes and after entering, encountered the two men struggling for control of the hammer.
San Francisco Police officer Kyle Cagney testified at the Dec. 14 hearing that he witnessed the attack.
“My partner said, ‘Drop the weapon’ … He started to pull the hammer, Mr. Pelosi let go and the man lunged and hit Mr. Pelosi in the head,” Cagney said in court, describing the encounter that left Pelosi with a fractured skull.
Cagney added that Pelosi was struck in the head “very hard” and collapsed face-first onto the floor.
Then Cagney tackled DePape and cuffed him, while his partner administered first aid to Pelosi, his testimony shows.
Pelosi was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands, and was later released.
In DePape’s backpack, police found a roll of tape, rope, and rubber gloves.
DePape, a Canadian national, is in the United States illegally, according to federal officials.
His lawyer, Adam Lipson, told reporters after the hearing that the judge’s ruling to proceed to trial came as no surprise.
DePape’s former girlfriend apologized to Nancy Pelosi for the attack in a series of letters, in which she said DePape suffers from “deep depression and severe PTSD” and had a tragic childhood, including child sexual abuse.
The suspect faces several state charges, including burglary, elder abuse, and attempted murder. A conviction on those charges carries a penalty of between 13 years and life in prison.
DePape also faces federal charges of assault on a family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official.
He has pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges.