California judge orders release of footage of Pelosi attack

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Footage of the attack on the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be released after a judge on Wednesday denied prosecutors’ request to keep her secret.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Murphy ruled there was no reason to keep the footage secret, especially after prosecutors released it in open court during a preliminary hearing last month, according to Thomas R. Burke, a San Francisco-based attorney who represented The Associated Press and a host of other news organizations in their bid to access evidence.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office turned over the evidence to Murphy on Wednesday following a court hearing. Murphy has asked the clerk’s office to distribute it to the media, which could happen as early as Thursday.

Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s husband, was sleeping at the couple’s San Francisco home on October 28 when someone broke in and beat him with a hammer. Prosecutors have charged David DePape, 42, in connection with the attack.

During a preliminary hearing last month, prosecutors released excerpts from Paul Pelosi’s 911 call, along with footage from Capitol police surveillance cameras, body cameras worn by the two officers who arrived at the house and a video of DePape’s interview with the police.

But when news organizations requested copies of that evidence, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office refused to release it. The attack, which happened just days before the 2022 midterm elections, sparked intense public speculation that fueled the spread of misinformation..

The district attorney’s office argued that releasing the images publicly would only allow people to manipulate them in their quest to spread false information.

But news agencies argued it was vital for prosecutors to publicly share evidence that could debunk any misinformation circulating on the internet about the attack.

“You’re not eliminating the right of public access just because of concerns about conspiracy theories,” Burke said.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office did not respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

News organizations that requested the footage include The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Press Democrat, CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC, NBC and KQED, an NPR – member radio station in San Francisco.

DePape pleaded not guilty last month to six counts, including attempted murder. Police say DePape told them there was “evil in Washington” and that he wanted to hurt Nancy Pelosi because she was second in line to the presidency. His case is pending.

The Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives after the midterm elections. Republicans elected Republican Representative from California to the United States, Kevin McCarthy, as their new president. Pelosi will remain in Congress, but she has resigned as Democratic leader. She was replaced by Hakeem Jeffries from New York.