SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Paul Pelosi recounted publicly for the first time Monday what happened the night he was attacked by a man in the San Francisco home he shares with former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, recalling how shocking it was to see a man standing at his bedroom door, then how the man whacked him in the head with a hammer.
“It was a tremendous sense of 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 as he testified in the trial of David DePape, who is shown on video carrying out the attack.
Prosecutors say DePape bludgeoned Pelosi in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, just days before the midterm elections, and that he had rope and zip ties with him. DePape has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official with intent to retaliate against the official for performance of their duties.
Defense attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week that she won’t dispute that DePape attacked Pelosi. Instead, she will argue that DePape believed “with every ounce of his being” that he was taking action to stop government corruption, the erosion of freedom in the United States, 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.
Paul Pelosi’s testimony came on the trial’s second day, after prosecutors brought forward FBI agents who collected the electronics DePape was carrying and searched the room he lives in, a U.S. Capitol police officer who watches the surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home and another who has protected Nancy Pelosi since 2006, a Bay Area Rapid Transit police sergeant, and a digital forensics expert.
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 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?” He said that when he responded that his wife was in Washington, 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,” Paul Pelosi said.
Earlier, prosecutors played police body camera footage showing Pelosi facedown on the floor as paramedics help him. One 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.
He later underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands.
Some witnesses helped verify time stamps on footage from surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home, which are set to Eastern Time, and on BART trains, which were an hour behind Pacific Time.
FBI Special Agent Stephanie Minor, who was in charge of the investigation, testified that video showed DePape hit Paul Pelosi at least three times.
DePape showed little emotion during most of the testimony, only smiling and releasing a muted chuckle when, at his attorney’s request, Minor read a list of topics that appeared on his blog. They included Communism, corruption, COVID-19, Jewish people, “Gamergate,” guns, immigrants, memes and wamon, a word used to describe a woman who does nothing but complain.
Minor testified DePape started gathering items for the attack two months beforehand, in August 2022, purchasing body cameras, USB memory sticks, a large backpack and a sleeping bag. She also said FBI agents found two inflatable unicorn costumes and a box of crayons but didn’t explain the purpose of those items.
Federal prosecutors have said the evidence and FBI testimony will show DePape 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.
Pelosi’s testimony mirrored the series of events that prosecutors previously laid out.
He recounted how DePape had let him enter the bathroom, where Pelosi was able to grab his cellphone and use it to call 911 as DePape looked on, urging Pelosi to tell police that he was a friend. Pelosi said he tried to tell police what was happening without aggravating DePape.
Pelosi said he then suggested the two head downstairs after DePape told him he was tired and wanted to sleep. Pelosi recalled being thankful when the police arrived, only for DePape to then hit him with the hammer. He said he woke up in a pool of his own blood.
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 slept in a cot in a garage with no kitchen or bathroom in the Bay Area city of Richmond, according to photographs shown by prosecutors. He had been doing odd carpentry jobs to support himself and allegedly told authorities he had other targets, including a women’s and queer studies professor, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.