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Cop testifies wielding hammer that struck Paul Pelosi

Defendant David DePape appears in San Francisco Superior Court on Nov. 15, 2022. DePape faces federal charges of attempted kidnapping of a federal officer or employee and assault of an immediate family member of a federal official. DePape pleaded not guilty on all charges. | Vicki Behringer for The Standard

The hammer used to strike U.S. House Speak Nancy Pelosi’s husband was raised in a San Francisco courtroom by the police officer who tackled and detained the accused attacker, David DePape.

The man charged with the conspiracy-fueled plot that resulted in Paul Pelosi’s hospitalization sat in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday where new details emerged as prosecutors made their case to take DePape to trial.

Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing included never-before publicly played audio of Paul Pelosi’s 911 call and a newly released police interview with DePape, as well as the first testimony from an eyewitness account and never publicly played footage from officer body cameras—and the hammer that dealt a near-deadly blow. 

The judge also heard a recorded admission by DePape saying he was motivated by what he called “criminal” attacks on former President Donald Trump by Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“I'm not trying to get away with this,” a calm and collected DePape says in the recording. “I know exactly what I did. This is like an f— crime spree of the Democratic Party. This is f— insane. They are the criminals.” 

DePape faces charges of attempted murder, burglary, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and threatening a family member of an elected official. A federal case, meanwhile, includes charges of attempted kidnapping of a federal officer or employee and the assault of an immediate family member of a federal official.

DePape pleaded not guilty on all counts in both cases.

At Wednesday’s hearing before Judge Stephen Murphy, DePape appeared in a courtroom walled off by plexiglass, alongside his attorney Deputy Public Defender Adam Lipson.

Paul Pelosi was attacked in his Pacific Heights home on Oct. 28 right in front of police, who arrested DePape on the spot. The suspect then told police about wanting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi in a lone mission to punish her for her politics, court records say.

San Francisco Police Officer Kyle Cagney, one of two responding officers, was the first witness to take the stand, where he described the welfare check that brought him and his partner to the Pelosi home. When they got to the front door, Cagney said they saw Pelosi and DePape grappling over the hammer. 

Footage from that moment shows a police flashlight illuminating the dark doorway as an officer says, “What’s going on, man? Drop the hammer!” The attacker replies: “Nope.” 

An officer asks, “What is going on right now? Oh shit!” The footage then shows one of the officers rush inside and tackle the hammer-wielding intruder. “Give me your f— hand, give me your f— hand,” the officer tells the attacker.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and husband Paul Pelosi attend the 45th Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2022. | Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Cagney recounted it all from the witness stand, saying he “instantly ran inside the house and tackled the suspect to the ground.”

“I grabbed the hammer and tossed it away, so the suspect couldn’t regain control of the hammer,” Cagney continued. 

In DePape’s recollection, he said the cops seemed surprised: “I jump into action; they jump into action.” And then, he said he whacked Paul Pelosi “full force” with the hammer.”

The fracas unfolded in less than a minute.

DePape was handcuffed. Pelosi lie in a pool of blood—in the recording, he’s heard moaning in pain.

In a moment that seemed meant to heighten the courtroom drama Wednesday, a prosecutor asked Cagney to cut open a sealed evidence envelope to reveal the hammer. He then had the cop reenact the strike that hit Paul Pelosi.

DePape later told an officer he was so determined to punish Nancy Pelosi that he wouldn’t back down for her husband or police, according to audio played in court.

“I didn’t come here to surrender,” he can be heard saying. “I’m here for the fight.”

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at