David DePape is facing charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and threats to a public official and their family. He could be sentenced to 13 years to life in prison if convicted.
SAN FRANCISCO — The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and attacking her husband with a hammer told Paul Pelosi that his wife and other members of Congress were “crazy and corrupt” and that he needed “to take them out,” a detective testified in court Wednesday.
David DePape also told law enforcement in an interview after the Oct. 28 attack that he believed the high-ranking Democrat and others were “submitting fake evidence to spy on” former president Donald Trump’s campaign. DePape also told officials he planned to target California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Hunter Biden, and actor Tom Hanks, San Francisco police Sgt. Carla Hurley said.
“They go from one crime to another crime to another crime to another crime,” DePape told Hurley, according to an audio recording of an interview played during his preliminary hearing, “and it’s just like the whole fucking four years until they were finally able to steal the election. It’s unacceptable.”
Prosecutors for the San Francisco district attorney’s office on Wednesday questioned Hurley, the detective who investigated the incident, and Officer Kyle Cagney, who responded to the Pelosis’ home with his partner and said he witnessed DePape strike Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy ruled Wednesday there was enough evidence for DePape to face trial and ordered him to appear for an arraignment on Dec. 28.
During the hearing, prosecutors also showed body camera footage from Cagney’s partner and surveillance footage that showed DePape breaking into the Pelosis’ home and played recordings of the 911 call Paul Pelosi made, as well as 17 minutes of an interview Hurley conducted with DePape after the attack.
DePape, 42, is facing several state charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and threats to a public official and their family, in connection with the early morning attack on Paul Pelosi. He could be sentenced to 13 years to life in prison if convicted.
The federal government has also charged DePape with assaulting an immediate family member of a US official and attempting to kidnap an official “on account of the performance of official duties.” The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison.
According to a federal indictment, DePape planned to kidnap the speaker when he broke into the Pelosis’ home armed with “zip ties, tape, rope, and at least one hammer.” Prosecutors said he entered Paul Pelosi’s bedroom while the speaker’s husband was asleep and “stated he wanted to talk to ‘Nancy.'” When told she was not there and wouldn’t be home for several days, DePape said “he would sit and wait.” (Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, DC, at the time.)
The speaker’s husband was ultimately able to call 911 from the bathroom. Police arrived at the home less than 10 minutes later and found the speaker’s husband and the suspect holding onto a hammer. When officers asked DePape to drop the hammer, he allegedly “pulled the hammer from Pelosi’s hand and swung the hammer, striking Pelosi in the head.” Officers then restrained DePape, while Pelosi “appeared to be unconscious on the ground.”
Pelosi, 82, underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and “serious injuries” to his right arm and hands sustained during the attack.
In an interview conducted while he was still being treated at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Pelosi told police that he’d asked DePape why he wanted to speak to his wife, Hurley testified on Wednesday.
“He replied that she was second in line for the presidency and that, ‘they’re all crazy and corrupt and that we need to take them out,’” she said.
Pelosi told the detective that he did not know the man and had never seen him before. Over the course of their encounter, Pelosi said DePape told him that “he could take him out” at least 10 times, Hurley said. The speaker’s husband told the detective that he was concerned for his safety and feared that DePape would use the hammer, which he said the man was holding when he appeared in the Pelosis’ bedroom.
“Did Mr. Pelosi say he felt free to leave the house at any point?” Assistant District Attorney Phoebe Maffei asked Hurley.
“He said, ‘hell no,’” the detective replied.
During the 911 call played in court, Paul Pelosi sounded relatively calm as he spoke with a San Francisco dispatcher, who has been praised by local officials for recognizing that the speaker’s husband was in trouble and that the call warranted a faster police response.
When the dispatcher asks if Pelosi needed police, fire, or medical attention, he responds, “Uh, I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” before asking if the Capitol police were available.
“They’re usually here at the house protecting my wife,” Pelosi says.
Pelosi can be heard talking to DePape in the recording, asking him, “What do you think?”
“Uh, he thinks everything’s good,” Pelosi tells the dispatcher. “I’ve got a problem, but he thinks everything’s good.”
The dispatcher then asks Pelosi if he knows who DePape is, but Pelosi says that he doesn’t before adding that the man was “telling me not to do anything.” The dispatcher then gets Pelosi’s name as well as the address of his home. Pelosi then says, “He’s telling me to put the phone down and to just do what he says.”
“What’s the gentleman’s name,” the dispatcher asks.
“My name’s David,” DePape responds.
“And who is David,” the dispatcher asks.
“I don’t know,” Pelosi says. Then DePape can be heard saying, “I’m a friend of theirs.”
Throughout the hearing, DePape, who was wearing orange pants and an orange crewneck sweatshirt, sat with his attorney, public defender Adam Lipson, as he listened to the testimony. When Officer Cagney identified DePape as the man he said he saw lunge at Pelosi with a hammer and striking him in the head, DePape blinked and nodded, leaning back in his chair.
In the body-worn camera footage, which was not visible to most members of the media and public in the courtroom, Cagney and his partner can be heard walking up to the Pelosis’ house in Pacific Heights and then knocking on the door. About ten seconds later, Paul Pelosi opens the door.
“Hi, how are you doing,” someone says.
“What’s going on, man,” Cagney’s partner, Officer Kolby Wilmes, says. A moment later, Wilmes says, “Drop the hammer.” “Um, nope,” DePape responds.
It was at that moment when DePape started leaning backward to pull the hammer away from Pelosi, Cagney testified. Pelosi tried to step back to get away from DePape, the officer said, but then DePape lunged at him and struck him in the head.
Cagney said he then ran inside the house “as fast as [he] could” and tackled DePape. Meanwhile, Pelosi was laying face down on the floor next to a pool of blood and appeared to be unconscious. In the body camera footage, Pelosi can be heard snoring loudly as the officers detain DePape.
At the time of the attack, DePape had been living in a garage in Richmond, a city about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco. He was previously associated with a group of Bay Area nude activists and photographed at demonstrations in the early 2010s. But in recent years, he had shared social media posts espousing debunked conspiracy theories about COVID vaccines, the 2020 presidential election, and the murder of George Floyd. Two blogs that were written by a person named David DePape were also filled with racist, antisemitic, and other bigoted statements.
In his interview with Hurley, DePape said he had planned to take Nancy Pelosi hostage and break her kneecaps if she lied, according to the recording. He told Hurley that he would give her the chance to tell “the truth,” but that he didn’t expect her to.
“He wanted to show that if she, Nancy Pelosi, had wheeled herself into Congress in a wheelchair that he would relay that there were consequences to their actions,” Hurley testified.
DePape also told Hurley that Paul Pelosi was not his target — “I even told him that,” DePape said, according to the recording.
But after Pelosi called the police, DePape said he felt like the Speaker’s husband gave him no choice.
“He’s pushing me in a corner where I have to do something,” he told Hurley.
DePape said he explained to Pelosi that he had “other targets,” and that he couldn’t be stopped.
“If I have to go through him, I will,” DePape said in the interview.
Later in the interview, Hurley asked, “Why did you hit him?”
“I told him that I’m not going to surrender,” DePape said. “I’m here for the fight. … If you stop me from going after people, you will take the punishment instead.”