Paul Pelosi’s accused attacker to appear in court for first time
The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home, beating her husband and seeking to kidnap her told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had plans to target other California and federal politicians, according to a Tuesday court filing.
David DePape was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. His public defender entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. It was his first public appearance since the early Friday attack.
In the court filing, prosecutors detailed the attack in stark terms as part of their bid to keep DePape behind bars. Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious by the hammer attack and woke up in a pool of his own blood, the filing said.
DePape’s intent “could not have been clearer,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins wrote in the filing: “He forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her. Thwarted by Speaker Pelosi’s absence, Defendant continued on his quest and would not be stopped, culminating in the near fatal attack on Mr. Pelosi.”
Without being questioned, DePape told officers and medics at the scene that he was sick of the “lies coming out of Washington D.C.,” the filing said. “I didn’t really want to hurt him, but you know this was a suicide mission. I’m not going to stand here and do nothing even if it cost me my life.”
DePape allegedly told first responders he had other targets, including a local professor as well as several prominent state and federal politicians and members of their families. The filing did not name any potential targets.
“This case demands detention,” Jenkins wrote. “Nothing less.”
Wearing orange jail clothing and with his right arm in a sling, DePape only spoke during his arraignment Tuesday to tell Judge Diane Northway how to pronounce his last name (dih-PAP’).
After the hearing, DePape’s public defender Adam Lipson said he looks forward to providing him with a “vigorous legal defense.” He said his 42-year-old client’s shoulder was dislocated during the arrest.
“We’re going to be doing a comprehensive investigation of what happened. We’re going to be looking into Mr. DePape’s mental state, and I’m not going to talk any further about that until I have more information,” Lipson said.
He later said he was pleased that Paul Pelosi was improving and urged the public not to pass judgment on what he called “a complicated situation.”
The attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi sent shockwaves through the political world just days before the hotly contested midterm elections. Threats against lawmakers and elections officials have been at all-time highs in this first nationwide election since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the U.S.
DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He also faces federal charges including attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official.
While prosecutors have not offered a timeline prior to Friday’s events, Jenkins previously told The Associated Press that the attack appeared premeditated.
“This was not something that he did at the spur of the moment,” she told the AP on Monday.
The court filing said DePape smashed his shoulder through a glass window early Friday in the back of the Pelosis’ Pacific Heights home and confronted a sleeping Paul Pelosi, clad only in boxer shorts and a pajama top.
“Are you Paul Pelosi?” DePape said, standing over him around 2 a.m. holding a hammer and zip ties. “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?”
A groggy Pelosi told DePape that his wife was not home and would be gone for several days. DePape then allegedly threatened to tie Paul Pelosi up — the first of 10 such threats, the filing says.
Paul Pelosi was eventually able to call 911 from the home’s bathroom, where his cellphone was charging. While speaking to the dispatcher, DePape was gesturing and telling Pelosi to hang up, the filing said.
Pelosi then told the dispatcher that he did not need police, fire or medical assistance but he instead asked “for the Capitol Police because they are usually at the house protecting his wife.”
Moments later the dispatcher heard him interacting with a man and Paul Pelosi said “Uh, he thinks everything’s good. Uh, I’ve got a problem, but he thinks everything’s good.”
Two officers who raced to the home witnessed DePape hit Pelosi with the hammer at least once, striking him in the head, the filing states. Jenkins has said the assault was captured on the officers’ body cameras.
Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members. She quickly returned to San Francisco, where her husband was hospitalized and underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries.
In Washington, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger provided a sobering update Tuesday of security protocols for members of Congress.
Manger said that although many improvements have been made since the Capitol attack, including the hiring of nearly 280 officers by the end of this year, “there is still a lot of work to do.”
“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for members of Congress,” he said.
Manger said the attack on Pelosi’s husband was “an alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today’s contentious political climate.”
Dazio reported from Los Angeles.
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Michael Balsamo in Washington, DC also contributed to this report.