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Police bodycam footage shows attack on Paul Pelosi

By Bernd Debusmann Jr
BBC News, Washington

The man who attacked the husband of former US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

David DePape was convicted of assault and attempted kidnapping of a federal official in November after a week-long trial in San Francisco.

The attack left Paul Pelosi, now 84, in hospital for six days with a fractured skull and other injuries.

Mrs Pelosi had asked for a “very long” sentence to be given to DePape.

A spokesperson for Mrs Pelosi said that the family “couldn’t be prouder of their Pop and his tremendous courage” on the night of the attack and in testifying in the case.

“Speaker Pelosi and her family are immensely grateful to all who have sent love and prayers over the last eighteen months, as Mr Pelosi continues his recovery,” the spokesperson said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Prosecutors had asked the judge for DePape to be given 40 years. He is also facing life imprisonment on separate state charges.

Video of the incident shown during the trial shows DePape, a Canadian citizen who has lived in the US for two decades, breaking into the Pelosi home in California armed with a hammer on 28 October 2022.

DePape asked for Mrs Pelosi, who was not at home, when he confronted the lawmaker’s husband inside the couple’s house.

When police officers arrived after responding to a 911 call, they found Mr Pelosi and DePape both gripping a hammer.

Paul Pelosi was seriously injured in the attack

Moments later – after being asked to drop the weapon – DePape abruptly struck Mr Pelosi before being wrestled to the ground by officers. The entire incident was caught on body cameras worn by the officers.

In addition to a fractured skull, Mr Pelosi suffered injuries to his arm and hand. He was struck three times during the attack.

In a letter filed ahead of the sentencing, Mrs Pelosi called on the court to hand down a “very long” sentence for DePape, adding that she and her husband have never been able to discuss the incident.

“Paul and I have not discussed the events of that horrible night,” she wrote. “Paul doesn’t want to undergo revisiting it, and the doctors’ advice is that discussing the vicious assault would only renew his trauma.”

During the trial, Mr Pelosi testified that DePape said his plan was to “take out” Mrs Pelosi, whom he referred to as the “leader of the pack”.

“It was a tremendous shock, looking at him, looking at the hammer and the ties,” Mr Pelosi recalled. “I recognised I was in serious danger. I tried to stay as calm as possible.”

After the attack, Mr Pelosi said his next memory was waking up to a “pool of blood” and being rushed to the hospital.

In his own letter to the court before the sentencing, Mr Pelosi said he is still grapping with the effects of the attack.

“I walk slowly and have difficulty with my balance. Nearly every day I get headaches that become migraines unless quickly addressed,” he wrote. “I need to sleep during the day and cannot tolerate bright lights or loud noises for extended periods of time.”

DePape’s court-appointed lawyer, Jodi Linker, argued that her client was motivated by right-wing conspiracy theories, which the defendant believed “with every ounce of his being”.

Prosecutors, however, argued that DePape had a “plan of violence”, noting that he told investigators he had a “target list” and plan to break Mrs Pelosi’s kneecaps if she did not reveal “the truth”. At the time of his arrest, DePape had zip ties and duct tape.

In addition to the federal charges, DePape is facing separate state charges stemming from the attack. They include burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and attempted murder.

He faces life imprisonment if convicted of those charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

17 November 2023
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