Graphic video of Paul Pelosi attack, suspect's confession to police released

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A surveillance video that shows an intruder breaking into a San Francisco house. A 911 call in which a man calmly tells police there's a "gentleman here just waiting for my wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi." A police body-camera video that shows the suspect swinging a hammer at Paul Pelosi.

Videos and audio recordings made public by a San Francisco court Friday together form a chilling account of the ordeal that unfolded inside the home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the early hours of Oct. 28, when a man smashed into the house and attacked her husband in a brutal act of political violence just before the midterm elections.

The recordings are evidence in the case against David DePape, who has been charged with attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threats to a public official and their family on allegations of breaking into the lawmaker's home and attacking Paul Pelosi, fracturing his skull and causing other serious injuries. DePape has pleaded not guilty.

In a rambling interview with police recorded shortly after the attack that was also released Friday, DePape said he broke into the house and hit Paul Pelosi with a hammer, but that he’d come to the house hoping to find Nancy Pelosi, Democrats' "leader of the pack."

She was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the break-in. Security cameras at the home were not actively being monitored by U.S. Capitol Police the night of the home invasion, according to the government agency.

The lawmaker briefly addressed the release of the evidence in comments to reporters at the Capitol on Friday.

"I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the confession. I have not seen the break-in, and I have absolutely no intention of seeing the deadly assault on my husband's life," she said.

Nancy Pelosi thanked people for prayers for his recovery and said her husband is “making progress but it will take more time."

A coalition of at least a dozen news organizations, including The Times, asked the court to order the San Francisco district attorney’s office to release copies of the records already submitted into evidence, arguing that the news media and public had a right to review them.

DePape’s lawyers opposed making that evidence public, saying it could jeopardize his right to a fair trial and stir up more misinformation about the case. The attack on Pelosi spawned a flurry of unfounded conspiracy theories online, including on popular social media platforms.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy disagreed with those objections, dismissing them as speculation. He said that while the right to a fair trial is “certainly a legitimate concern in any case,” the court couldn’t withhold the release of records out of fear that they could be manipulated.

The evidence the court released is limited to material that was submitted during a December hearing. Though the videos were shown in court and reported on by media at the time, news organizations did not have access to make the material available to the public until the court order this week.

Throughout the 911 call, it’s clear that Pelosi is trying to convey that something is terribly wrong but without losing his composure.

"He thinks everything is good," he said, speaking about DePape. "I’ve got a problem, but he thinks everything is good."

Pelosi told the dispatcher he didn't know the man. When the dispatcher asks for the man's name, DePape responds that his name is David. The dispatcher then asks who David is.

"I don’t know," Pelosi said. DePape chimes in that he's "a friend of theirs."

“He says he’s a friend,” Pelosi responded, saying again that he doesn’t know who he is, and that he's being instructed to hang up. “I gotta stop talking to you, OK?”

The dispatcher said she could stay on the phone with Pelosi to "make sure everything is OK." But Pelosi said he was being instructed to hang up the phone, and the call ends.

Minutes later, police arrive at the door.

The body-camera footage, which confirms the narrative investigators provided after the attack, shows police arriving at the Pacific Heights home to find Pelosi and the suspect standing calmly, each with a hand on a large hammer.

After police demanded they drop the weapon, DePape wrested control of the hammer, swung it above his head and hit Pelosi, according to police and the video.

Officers darted into the home and tackled DePape as Pelosi lay motionless.

DePape was obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories and spent a lot of time alone, absorbing extremist views online, people who know him told The Times shortly after the attack. Some of those views were reflected in an interview San Francisco Police did with DePape shortly after his arrest.

In a 17-minute clip of the interview, DePape offered unsparing detail to San Francisco Police Sgt. Carla Hurley of his plans to break into the Pelosi home and interrogate the former House speaker.

“I’m not trying to get away with this,” DePape said. “I know exactly what I did.”

Hurley asked why DePape had targeted the Pelosis, and if the family had done something to him.

“Not me specifically, but to the entire American public, honestly,” he responded.

DePape said he thought Nancy Pelosi was “the leader of the pack” of Democrats in Washington who tell lies. He then meandered into Watergate, Hillary Clinton, spying on rival political campaigns and other conspiracies of Democrats working against former President Trump.

DePape said the Democratic Party had gone on a “crime spree” during Trump’s four years in office, “until they were finally able to steal the election.”

DePape then described how his intention was to break into the Pelosis’ home, hold the Democratic lawmaker hostage and “talk to her.”

“If she told the truth, I’d let her go scot-free,” he said. But if she lied, he added, he was going to “break her knee caps.”

“He was not my target,” DePape said of Paul Pelosi.

He then detailed how he broke into the home by using a hammer and by body-slamming his way through glass. He said the effort caused him to get “pretty winded” at one point.

Capitol Police video, also released Friday, shows a man walking up to a glass door on the exterior of the Pelosi home. He looks through the glass, walks away and returns wearing a large backpack and carrying a bag. He sets the bags down and removes several items, including a hammer.

He then walks up to the house and repeatedly swings the hammer. The camera angle does not show what surface the hammer hits, but after several swings and a flurry that looks like a burst of broken glass, the footage shows the man entering the house.

DePape said he initially thought that nobody was home, but then was “surprised” to find Paul Pelosi.

DePape said he told Paul Pelosi that he was looking for his wife. Paul Pelosi asked DePape how the two could “resolve” the situation, he said. DePape said he was so tired from breaking into the house and from carrying a heavy backpack full of supplies, that he just wanted to tie Paul Pelosi up and go to sleep.

Paul Pelosi then called 911, with DePape standing next to him the whole time. DePape said he just wanted to talk to Paul Pelosi “frankly,” but that he would be undeterred by efforts to distract him.

“I have other targets. And I can’t be stopped by him,” DePape said.

“Why didn’t you just leave?” the investigator asked.

“You know, the founding fathers, it’s like, they fought the British. They fought tyranny. They didn’t just f—ing surrender to it. And when I left my house, I left to go fight tyranny. I did not leave to go surrender,” he said.

DePape described Paul Pelosi running to the door once the police arrived.

“I’m standing there right beside him with the hammer,” DePape said.

Pelosi then took the hammer from him, DePape said, "so I basically yanked it away from him, and hit him.”

“I told him, I’m not going to surrender. I’m here for the fight,” he continued. “If you stop me from going after evil, you will take the punishment instead.”

He told police that he didn’t know how many times he hit Paul Pelosi, but that he used his “full force.”

Paul Pelosi has attended public events in Washington since the attack. He accompanied his wife to an event at the Kennedy Center in December, the Hill reported, and was photographed with her as the new session of Congress began on Jan. 3.

“This has been tough,” Nancy Pelosi said in a recent interview with the New York Times. “It’s going to be about three or four more months before he’s really back to normal.”

Times staff writer Nolan D. McCaskill contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.