Paul Pelosi has recounted publicly for the first time details of the harrowing night he was attacked by a hammer-wielding man in the San Francisco home he shares with his wife and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Testifying in the trial of David DePape, the man accused of attacking him last year, Paul Pelosi recalled his alarm at seeing a man standing in his bedroom.
“It was tremendous shock to recognize that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognized that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible,” Pelosi told jurors.
Paul Pelosi said he has not discussed the attack with anyone and has encouraged his family not to as well “because it has been too traumatic”.
The Pelosis’ home has an alarm system with motion detectors, but Paul Pelosi said he never put it on when he was home alone because his movements would trigger it.
He recalled being awakened by a man bursting into the bedroom door asking “Where’s Nancy?” When Paul Pelosi responded that his wife was in Washington, he testified DePape said he would tie him up while they waited for her.
“We had some conversation with him saying she was the leader of the pack, he had to take her out, and that he was going to wait for her,” he said.
Pelosi’s account came on the second day of the trial, following testimony from a string of law enforcement officials who provided context around video evidence that’s at the crux of the case against DePape.
Prosecutors say DePape bludgeoned Paul Pelosi with a hammer in the early hours of 28 October 2022, just days before that year’s midterm elections. Earlier on Monday, they brought forward an FBI agent who collected the electronics DePape was carrying, a US Capitol police officer who watches the surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home and another who has protected Nancy Pelosi since 2006, and a Bay Area Rapid Transit police sergeant.
FBI special agent Stephanie Minor testified that video evidence showed DePape hit Paul Pelosi at least three times.
Prosecutors played police body camera footage in which paramedics help Paul Pelosi, who is facedown on the floor. One paramedic holds a white towel against Pelosi’s head as another puts a neck and head brace on him before several first responders help him onto a stretcher chair. Pelosi’s face and hands are covered in blood.
Defense attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week that she won’t dispute that DePape was the attacker. Instead, she will argue that DePape believed “with every ounce of his being″ that he was taking action to stop government corruption and the abuse of children by politicians and actors. She said that means the government’s charges that DePape was trying to retaliate or interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties don’t fit.
Federal prosecutor Laura Vartain Horn told jurors during opening statements Thursday that DePape started planning the attack in August and that the evidence and FBI testimony will show he researched his targets online, collecting phone numbers and addresses, even paying for a public records service to find information.
If convicted, DePape faces life in prison. He also has pleaded not guilty to charges in state court of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. A state trial has not been scheduled.
On the night of the attack, Nancy Pelosi was in Washington and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members. Paul Pelosi called 911 and two police officers showed up and witnessed DePape strike him in the head with a hammer, knocking him unconscious, court records showed.
Nancy Pelosi’s husband of 60 years later underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands.
After his arrest, DePape, 43, allegedly told a San Francisco detective that he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage. He said if she told him the truth, he would let her go and if she lied, he was going to “break her kneecaps” to show other members of Congress there were “consequences to actions”, according to prosecutors.
DePape, who lived in a garage in the Bay Area city of Richmond and had been doing odd carpentry jobs to support himself, allegedly told authorities he had other targets, including a women’s and queer studies professor, California governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and Joe Biden’s son Hunter.