The more we learn about Paul Pelosi on the night he was attacked, the more impressive becomes the picture of his response. Not that it will silence the conspiracists — but maybe more public disclosure could. Let’s hear the 9-1-1 call and see the police body camera footage.
Both came into evidence this week at a preliminary hearing, where the attacker was ordered to stand trial on all charges. First, prosecutors played for the judge the 9-1-1 call made by Pelosi in the presence of his intruder. Though the audio has not been publicly released, a transcript was published by San Francisco TV Station KRON.
The dispatcher asks, “Who is this? Do you need help?”
Paul Pelosi responds, “There is a gentleman here waiting for my wife to come, waiting for my wife to come back. She’s not going to be here for days so I guess we will have to wait.”
Dispatcher: “Do you need police or fire?”
Pelosi: “I don’t think so. Is the capitol police around? They are usually here at the house protecting my wife.”
Let me stop right there.
The interaction shows Pelosi with a pretty amazing presence of mind.
He’s an octogenarian, who’s been startled awake in the middle of the night after a guy smashed the glass on his back door with a hammer and is now confronting him wanting to know the whereabouts of his wife.
Pelosi speaks in code to the dispatcher, his words contain a number of tells compensating for the fact that he can’t just say, “Hey, I’ve got a strange guy in my house with a hammer and I need help.”
So when the dispatcher next says, “No, this is San Francisco police,” Pelosi responds:
“No, I understand. Ok well, what do you think? I’ve got a problem, but he says everything is good. The gentleman came into the house.”
Dispatcher: “Do you know who the person is?”
Pelosi: “No, I don’t know who he is. He told me not to do anything.”
You can almost see the dispatcher’s ears perk up and eyebrows rise — in the transcript it says he next speaks in a “more urgent tone.”
Dispatcher: “What is your address, sir? What is your name?”
Pelosi: “My name is Paul Pelosi.”
Dispatcher: “What’s the gentleman’s name?”
Pelosi: “His name is David.”
Dispatcher: “Who is David?”
Pelosi: “I don’t know.”
Now the intruder, David DePape, takes the phone and says, “I’m a friend of theirs.”
Remember that the intruder is the one, not Pelosi, who uses the word “Friend.”
When the dispatcher says, “I can stay on the phone to make sure everything is ok,” Pelosi says, “No, he’s telling me to get the hell off the phone.”
The call terminates.
This chronology was muddied a bit by an audio snippet, presumably between a dispatcher and police, that did get in the public domain.
The dispatcher can be heard saying, “There’s a male in the home and that he’s going to wait for his wife, however he’s saying that he doesn’t know who the male is, but he advised but his name is David and that he is a friend.
That makes it sound like Pelosi called the intruder his friend — but he didn’t, according to the transcript.
You can imagine how the conspiracists delight in that type of misinformation.
A fringe newspaper used it to float a theory that the encounter was some sort of pre-planned gay rendezvous — which Elon Musk then amplified by retweeting.
This claim was somehow seen as proved by the fact that Pelosi was in his underwear. In fact, it would have been unusual if Pelosi were not in his underwear given that the break in was at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
The San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins felt it necessary to hold a news conference to, as she said, “clear up distortions” that had emerged on social media. As the Chronicle reported, police determined that “there were only two people in the home at the time of the incident,” Jenkins said. “We have nothing to suggest that the two men knew each other prior to this incident.”
Also, after the perpetrator was revealed to have posted extreme right wing views — and to have asked “Where’s Nancy?” — many high profile outlets and personalities on the right were dismissive about that connection, with some even going so far as to saying the posts were faked.
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh said it was “absurd” to portray the attacker as “a militant right winger.” Texas senator Ted Cruz retweeted this with the word “Truth.”
Look, I get that this is all very painful for the Pelosis who have to relive these horrifying moments.
They have a right to privacy mitigated by the prosecutors’ need to make a public showing of evidence sufficient to press the case against the attacker. However, I’m not sure they are best served when all the evidence is not in the public domain.
Consider the police body camera footage. The judge watched the footage on a monitor facing away from everybody else. The public has not, and may never, see it. Again, all we have right now is the transcript, again, via KRON.
This is what happened when police knocked on the Pelosi front door.
Officer: “Good morning, what’s going on man?”
DePape: “Everything’s good.”
Officer: “Drop the hammer!”
Depape: “Uh, nope.”
(Sounds of a struggle are heard as DePape struck Paul Pelosi with the hammer).
Officer: “Oh s**!”
The situation turned from calm to chaotic within two seconds. One officer charged at DePape and tackled him to the ground. Paul Pelosi was unconscious, facedown on the ground, and in a pool of blood.
Officer: “Backup code 3! Give me your f**king hands! Give me your f**king hands!”
(The officer had DePape on the ground and was wrestling him into handcuffs.)
Put what we know together and Paul Pelosi seems pretty remarkable. Brave. Resourceful.
How many among us, even of a much younger age, would’ve had the deftness to manage an obviously unstable intruder while successfully alerting the police?
All the more reason that all the evidence should see the light of day.