Suspect in Paul Pelosi’s hammer attack wanted to harm House Speaker over Democratic ‘crime spree’

Police interviews with suspect David DePape, bodycam footage and 911 call revealed in court hearing

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 14 December 2022 22:58 GMT
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The man accused of breaking into Nancy Pelosi’s home and striking her husband in the head with a hammer, leaving him unconscious in a pool of blood, told police in a taped interview that he was compelled to attack over “insane” lies in Washington DC, blaming Hillary Clinton and a Democratic “crime spree” against Donald Trump.

A recording of David DePape’s interview after his arrest on 28 October was played in San Francisco Superior Court on 14 December during a preliminary hearing in the case. Judge Stephen Murphy ruled there is enough evidence for Mr DePape to face trial, and his arraignment is scheduled for 28 December.

“I’m not trying to get away with it. I know exactly what I did,” he said during the interview.

“The lies are insane,” he continued. “People in Washington. It originates with Hillary. Honestly, day in and day out, the person on TV lying every day was [Nancy] Pelosi. It’s f****** insane the crime spree the Democrats have been on, persecuting the rival campaign.”

Asked by a San Francisco Police Department lieutenant who was interrogating Mr DePape if he was referring to Mr Trump’s campaign, Mr DePape said “yes, Trump”.

“[Democrats] go from one crime to another crime. It’s a whole f****** four years. It’s unacceptable,” he said.

The recording corroborates earlier filings and a federal criminal complaint that detailed the night of the attack, which cited Mr DePape’s subsequent police interviews, footage from police body-worn cameras and Mr Pelosi’s call to 911. Despite the court documents and the suspect’s apparent admission, the case has been the source of rampant conspiracy theories and baseless speculation.

All recordings were displayed in court on 14 December.

Ms Pelosi was not home the night of the attack. Instead, Mr DePape allegedly beat her 82-year-old husband, fracturing his skull, according to prosecutors.

Mr DePape appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit. He has pleaded not guilty to federal and state charges against him, which include attempted murder, assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He remains in custody without bail.

Mr DePape told police during his interview that it “was not easy” breaking into the home, according to the transcript.

“There are cameras everywhere. A thousand cameras. I broke through … and I tried to turn the handle, and of course it’s locked,” he continued. “I body slammed through it. I didn’t feel any pain. I was surprised. All that noise, he did not hear it. He was asleep. I told him I’m looking for Nancy Pelosi. He was like, ‘how can we resolve this?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ That’s when he started to do things.”

Mr Pelosi, who was asleep in bed when Mr DePape allegedly broke into the home, later told police that Mr DePape was holding a hammer in one hand and plastic zip ties in the other and threatened to tie Mr Pelosi while they waited for Nancy Pelosi to return.

Mr Pelosi was able to call 911 from a bathroom and appeared to talk with the dispatcher without alarming Mr DePape. He used the speakerphone so Mr DePape was aware that Mr Pelosi speaking to police.

“There is a gentleman here waiting for my wife to come, waiting for my wife to come back. She’s not going to be here for days so I guess we will have to wait,” Mr Pelosi said.

A courtroom sketch depicts David DePape in court on 14 December.

The operator asked whether he needed the police or fire department.

“I don’t think so. Is the Capitol Police around? They are usually here at the house protecting my wife,” he said.

The dispatcher clarified that he was connected with San Francisco police.

“No, I understand. OK, well, what do you think? I’ve got a problem, but he says everything is good. The gentleman came into the house,” Mr Pelosi said.

“Do you know who the person is?” the operator asked.

“No, I don’t know who he is. He told me not to do anything,” he said.

The dispatcher asked for his name and address as well as the name of the suspect.

“His name is David,” Mr Pelosi said.

The dispatcher asked “who is David?”

Mr Pelosi said “I don’t know.” Mr DePape then can be heard saying “I’m a friend of theirs.”

“I can stay on the phone to make sure everything is OK,” the operator replied.

“No, he’s telling me to get the hell off the phone,” Mr Pelosi said before the call ended.

Mr Pelosi then tried to escape in an elevator, which was blocked by Mr DePape, he told police.

“I told him, ‘I have other targets. I can’t be stopped right now.’ If I have to go through him, I will,” according to his interview.

Mr Pelosi tried to reassure Mr DePape that the police were not coming, according to police.

“I told him I’m not f****** stupid. And you’re not f****** stupid either,” Mr DePape said in his interview.

Police arrived at the home minutes later.

A 15-second video from an officer’s body-worn camera recorded the front door opening to find both men struggling for control of a hammer, then police tackling Mr DePape.

“I threatened him a couple times. I told him I’m here to fight,” he continued. “If you stop me, you will take the punishment instead. I yanked [the hammer] away from him, I swung at him. I jump into action. They jump into action. They are on top of me instantly.”

San Francisco Police Officer Kyle Cagney, one of two officers who responded to the attack, testified on Wednesday that Mr DePape did not follow the commands to drop the hammer. Mr DePape then lunged at Mr Pelosi, according to Mr Cagney.

In audio from the bodycam footage, an officer is heard asking “what’s going on, man?”

Mr DePape allegedly replies “everything’s good”. An officer yells “drop the hammer,” to which Mr DePape is heard saying, “uh, nope”.

According to his police interview, Mr DePape said his intention for going to Ms Pelosi’s home was “to hold her hostage and talk to her”.

“If she told the truth, I’d let her go. If she told a lie, I’d break her kneecaps,” he said.

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