It’s been just over a year since then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was clocked in the head with a hammer by a deranged intruder who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home.
According to a recent Roll Call report, the Capitol Police, who are charged with ensuring the safety of the speaker, might have been able to prevent the shocking October 2022 attack.
Months before the break-in, the Capitol Police were aware of the fact that the police presence they had arranged with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to have continuously parked outside the Pelosi home had lapsed in 2021, an internal Capitol Police memo reviewed by CQ Roll Call revealed.
The Capitol Police “took some steps to restart the SFPD post at the house over the course of the next year, according to that internal memo,” reported Roll Call. “But the department only ‘reestablished’ the ’24/7 residential coverage’ after the attack that left Paul Pelosi lying in a pool of blood with a skull fracture.”
Obviously, it is impossible to know if posting an SFPD officer outside the Pelosi residence would have prevented David DePape from entering the home when the speaker was away.
Bodycam footage of the responding police officers on that October night showed Paul Pelosi opening the door for the police. He had his hand on the hammer, but before police could react, DePape snatched the weapon and attacked the speaker’s husband. He was quickly taken down by the shocked officers.
Security experts told Roll Call that a police post outside the home may have deterred would-be vandals and intruders. A posted officer may have noticed suspicious activity and could have responded immediately, rather than the 19 minutes it took for cops to arrive after DePape entered the house through a broken glass patio door.
Following the attack, the Capitol Police completed an “Incident After-Action Review” of the disturbing intrusion which has yet to be made public.
“An internal memo about that review to Chief J. Thomas Manger reveals new details and how the department cast blame for the missing police presence on long-standing policies, budget shortfalls and unresponsive San Francisco officials,” Roll Call reports.
In the January memo from then-acting assistant chief Jason Bell to Manger, Bell states that a protective detail for Paul Pelosi was not requested by the Capitol Police, because they hadn’t received any threats “that would justify, based on our current staffing levels, a plan to extend coverage for action.”
Nancy Pelosi’s protective detail travels with her, and she wasn’t in San Francisco when the attack took place.
However, according to Bell, the Capitol Police did request assistance from the city to protect the Pelosi palace after “protests and vandalism” occurred there.
“In early January 2021, news outlets reported that political messages had been spray-painted on the Pelosi garage door, and that a severed pig’s head and fake blood had been left on the premises,” according to Roll Call. “At the time, other violent threats on Nancy Pelosi kept coming, particularly after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Some rioters that day reportedly sought to find Nancy Pelosi and kill her, and others who threatened to kill her in the following days have been convicted.”
Still, in September 2021, the SFPD terminated “protective services” at the Pelosis’ residence pending an executed memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The Capitol Police “promptly signed the SFPD MOU on September 16, 2021, and returned it to the SFPD for execution” Bell told Manger in the memo. “The USCP also issued full payment to the SFPD for past services rendered.”
“In the months that followed,” Bell wrote, “the USCP repeatedly, on no less than a monthly basis, reached out to the SFPD for an update on the MOU with no results.”
Sergeant Kathryn Winters, a San Francisco Police Department spokesperson, placed the responsibility for protecting lawmakers and their families back in the hands of the Capitol Police.
“At the time that Mr Pelosi was attacked, there was no MOU between the SFPD and the US Capitol Police, and, because of this, there was no fixed post assignment outside of the Pelosi home,” Winters said in a written response to Roll Call. “The US Capitol Police is the agency that is responsible for providing security for members of Congress and their families.”
Since the attack, Paul Pelosi has been given a Capitol Police security detail and the agency “reestablished an MOU with the SFPD for 24/7 residential coverage,” Bell wrote.
Paul Starks, a Capitol Police spokesperson, said the attack “fast tracked improvements” that will help keep Congress members and their families safe.
“After January 6, the Department worked around the clock to enhance security around the Capitol Complex — changes that should have been addressed many years ago. Similarly, the San Francisco attack fast tracked improvements that will ensure the Members of Congress and their families are better protected during a volatile time in America,” Starks said.
“For safety reasons, it would be foolish for us to tell everyone what we do and all the resources that we are putting into protecting the Members and anyone who would disclose security sensitive details would be endangering the Congress and their families,” he added.
Meanwhile, “DePape’s federal criminal trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is scheduled to begin Nov. 9,” Roll Call reports. “He is charged with attempted kidnapping of a federal officer or employee and assault on an immediate family member of a federal official.”