Paul Pelosi recounts San Francisco home invasion, hammer attack at trial

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 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.

Prosecutors say DePape bludgeoned Paul Pelosi in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, just days before that year’s midterm elections, and that he had zip ties with him. DePape, a Canadian citizen, 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.

Defence attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week that she won’t dispute that DePape attacked Paul Pelosi. 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.

Paul Pelosi’s testimony came on the trial’s second day, after prosecutors brought forward an FBI agent who collected the electronics DePape was carrying, a U.S. 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.

WATCH | Footage released of hammer attack: 

Footage released of hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband

Featured VideoWARNING | This story contains distressing details. A San Francisco judge ordered the release of body camera footage showing the moment officers intervened when an alleged assailant attacked the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Pelosis’ home in California.

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.

Two people in formal clothing speaking into a microphone during an interview.
Pelosi of California, left, and husband Paul Pelosi are seen at the White House on June 22. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Earlier, prosecutors played police body camera footage showing paramedics helping Paul Pelosi, who is face down 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.

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 testified that video showed DePape hit Paul Pelosi at least three times.

An artist's rendition of a long-haired suspect with a beard wearing an orange jumpsuit.
David Wayne DePape appears in a courtroom sketch in November 2022. (Vicki Behringer/Reuters)

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.

Federal prosecutors say DePape smashed his shoulder through a glass panel on a door in the back of the Pelosis’ Pacific Heights mansion and confronted a sleeping Paul Pelosi, who was wearing boxer shorts and a pyjama top. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members.

A police car parked on an inclining street in front of a tall brown brick house.
A police car is seen outside the Pelosi home in San Francisco in October 2022. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Paul Pelosi called 911 and two police officers showed up and witnessed DePape knock 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 Gov. Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

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