Video shows struggle for hammer during attack on Paul Pelosi
Publicly released video shows the husband of former US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi fighting with an attacker for control of a hammer moments before he was struck during a brutal attack in the couple’s home last year.
Police bodycam footage shows suspect David DePape wrest the tool from 82-year-old Paul Pelosi and lunge towards him with the hammer over his head at the property in San Francisco.
The blow occurs out of view of the camera and the officers — one of them cursing — rush into the house and jump on DePape.
Mr Pelosi, apparently unconscious, can be seen lying face down on the floor in his pyjama top and underwear. Officials later said he woke up in a pool of his own blood.
The release of the video came after news agencies including the Associated Press sought access to the evidence that prosecutors played in open court last month. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office had refused to make the exhibits available to journalists.
A state court judge on Wednesday ruled there was no reason to keep the video secret.
The evidence includes portions of Mr Pelosi’s 911 call on October 28, as well as video images from Capitol Police surveillance cameras, a body camera worn by one of the two police officers who arrived at the house and a nearly 18-minute audio recording from DePape’s interview with police.
The Capitol Police video shows DePape walk up to a glass door, leave and then return wearing a large backpack and carrying two other bags. He sets all the items down and pulls out a hammer, pausing to put on gloves, and uses it to smash the door glass so he could step through an opening.
DePape has pleaded not guilty in ongoing state and federal cases. He is being held in jail without bail on charges including attempted murder, elder abuse and assaulting an immediate family member of a federal official.
Members of Congress have faced a sharp rise in threats in the two years since the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 2021.
Mr Pelosi was asleep at the couple’s home when DePape allegedly broke in. Ms Pelosi was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members.
Her husband of nearly 60 years underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands. He has since appeared in public wearing a hat and a glove that covered his wounds.
Ms Pelosi on Thursday told reporters her husband’s well-being was paramount and she did not know if she would view the video once it was released.
“I don’t even know if I will see that,” she said. “I mean, it would be a very hard thing to see an assault on my husband’s life, but I don’t know.”
San Francisco Officer Kolby Wilmes’ bodycam video begins with officers approaching the brick home and knocking on the door. It takes about 20 seconds for the door to open and during that time, the officers discuss whether they have the right house.
When the door opens, Mr Pelosi says: “Hi, guys, how are you?”
Both men are facing the officers at the door. Initially, the hammer is in the shadows and it takes about five seconds before a torch shows DePape holding the handle with his right hand and with his left hand clutching Mr Pelosi’s right hand, which is gripping the hammer head. The struggle is not apparent in the first few seconds.
“What’s going on, man?” the officer asks.
“Everything’s good,” DePape replies.
“Drop the hammer,” the officer says.
DePape says no and begins to pull it from Mr Pelosi, who says: “Hey, hey.”
DePape wins control of the hammer and winds up with his right and delivers a vicious overhand blow as Mr Pelosi disappears out of view and officers rush in.
The officers called for back-up as they struggled with DePape and Mr Pelosi was lying on the ground.
In an interview with San Francisco Police Lieutenant Carla Hurley after he was taken into custody, DePape said he did not regret the attack even though it was not Ms Pelosi, his intended target.
DePape told Lt Hurley he was going after Ms Pelosi for lying to the American public and that he planned to hold her hostage for her crimes. He believed the discredited conspiracy that Democrats stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump.