Federal agents have charged David DePape, 42, whom local police identified as the intruder, with assaulting an immediate family member of a U.S. official with intent to retaliate against the official because of the ‘execution of official duties, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official because of the exercise of official duties, carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years , according to the Department of Justice.
But false claims and innuendo about the attack flooded social media, adding to a deepening of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Elon Musk, for example, tweeted then removed a link to a story on a dodgy website that baselessly suggested that DePape was a prostitute. The complaint then trending on twitteraccording to Ben Collins, who covers disinformation and extremism for NBC.
Donald Trump Jr. also promoted this completely unfounded claim. He posted – and later deleted – a sexually explicit cartoon image on Instagram and included a message that read: “Dear fact checkers, this has nothing to do with anything happening in the news and simply publishes a cartoon of what appears to be an edited South Park scene.
But his 6.2 million followers showed their understanding of the post in the comments, saying things like “I don’t know man, it doesn’t look edited… it looks like a still from the camera security Pelosis for me.”
Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza posted a more suggestive claim on Twitter, asking, “How did Pelosi know the name of his attacker? He told police the assailant’s name was “David”. He also said that David was his “friend”. It’s on the police tape and you can listen to it yourself. So how do you explain these two telling facts? »
Any suggestion that Pelosi hired DePape as a prostitute or that Pelosi knew him in any capacity is false.
Robert Rueca, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, told us in an email that officers found no “evidence that the victim and suspect knew each other.”
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said the same thing in a local television interview Oct. 30.
And DePape himself told FBI agents in a taped interview that he broke into the house with the intention of holding Nancy Pelosi hostage and breaking her kneecaps if she “lied” to him. He wasn’t there for Paul Pelosi.
What we know about burglary
Sometime before 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, DePape used a hammer to smash the glass in the back door of the Pelosis home, DePape told the FBI.
He entered the house and went up to the second floor where Paul Pelosi was alone in bed. Nancy Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time.
DePape “told Pelosi to wake up,” according to FBI charging documents. DePape then “told Pelosi he was looking for Nancy.”
Around 2:23 a.m., Paul Pelosi called 911.
The circumstances surrounding the call are still unclear, but according to charging documents and police statements at press conferences, Pelosi was able to enter the bathroom where he dialed 911. DePape took knowledge of the call at some point and, with no power to relay the details of the home invasion, Pelosi let the dispatcher know there was a problem.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott repeatedly praised the 911 dispatcher who took the call, telling an Oct. 28 news conference that the dispatcher’s experience and intuition said that while the report qualified for a wellness check, “there was something more going on.” ”
The dispatcher escalated the call to officers, Scott said, adding, “she’s taken that extra step.”
This is perhaps where claims like D’Souza’s originated.
Recorded audio of radio communications between the dispatcher and officers circulated in conservative media. In the audio, which identifies Pelosi as “RP” or “flagger”, an officer can be heard saying, “RP said there is a man in the house and he will be waiting for his wife. RP said that he didn’t know who the man was, but that he had indicated that his name was David and that he was a friend.RP seemed somewhat confused.
Scott explained at the press conference that dispatchers “cannot report anything other than what is told to them” over the phone.
“An experienced dispatcher with good instincts, they know how to read between the lines, but they have to report what’s being said,” he said.
So any recording of officers getting initial information from the dispatch would only reflect what was relayed over the phone, which in this case was from Pelosi as he attempted to surreptitiously report the break-in while DePape was present. .
When responding officers arrived at the home minutes later, they saw Pelosi and DePape battling for the hammer, ending with DePape hitting Pelosi in the head.
Also, contrary to claims that DePape was in his underwear when officers arrived — like this one from conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams — according to the charging documents, DePape was clothed and, more specifically, wearing shorts. .
What we know about DePape
DePape, raised in British Columbia, Canada, moved to the United States about 20 years ago to pursue a romantic relationship, according to news organizations who interviewed several members of his family, from whom DePape was estranged.
Sometimes homeless, DePape, before the attack on Pelosi, lived in the garage of a house in Richmond, Calif., according to the criminal complaint filed against him. Richmond is less than 20 miles from San Francisco.
DePape’s ex-girlfriend, Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, a public nudity activist with whom DePape raised three children, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that DePape had struggled with mental illness and addiction for years. Taub did the interview from a California women’s prison where she is serving time for the harassment and attempted kidnapping of a minor in 2018.
Media reported that DePape in recent months had written dozens of disturbing posts on his Facebook page and also allegedly posted numerous writings on a blog and website that were allegedly registered in his name. According to media outlets that reviewed the sites, which have since been taken down, the posts often repeated baseless conspiracy theories and made derogatory comments about religious and minority groups.
“A WordPress blog that DePape maintained titled God Is Loving exposed censorship by an elite cabal of tech companies, government officials, and media outlets,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, for example. “As recently as August 25, DePape posted entries with titles such as ‘Communist Voodoo Science’ and ‘The Woke are Racists with a Guilty Conscience’.
“On a separate website, DePape’s posts became more erratic,” the Chronicle said. “He espoused vaccine conspiracy theories and voter fraud allegations, writing that any reporter who disputed those allegations ‘should be dragged into the streets and shot.'” Days before the alleged hammer attack on Paul Pelosi, DePape published an article saying that the war in Ukraine was a ploy for the benefit of the Jewish people.
The Associated Press reported: “It appears there were no direct messages on [Nancy] Pelosi, but there were entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper officially known as Kayne West who recently made anti-Semitic comments.
When DePape entered the Pelosis home early in the morning of Oct. 28, he “was prepared to detain and injure President Pelosi,” according to federal charging documents.
It had arrived with zip ties, duct tape, rope and at least a hammer.
According to the federal criminal complaint, DePape told officers “he was going to take Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy told DePape the “truth”, he would let her go, and if she “lied”, he would break her “kneecaps”. DePape was sure Nancy wouldn’t have told the “truth”.
DePape told FBI investigators that “he views Nancy as the ‘ringleader’ of lies told by the Democratic Party,” according to the complaint. He “also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be rushed to Congress, which would show other members of Congress that actions had consequences.”
DePape used rhetoric common in right-wing media during the interview described in the charging documents. He told officers he did not leave the house after Pelosi’s 911 call, “because, just like the American Founding Fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny with no possibility of surrender.”
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San Francisco Police Department. Press release. “San Francisco Police Arrest Violent Assault Suspect at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 22-153 Residence.” October 29, 2022.
Hammill, Drew. Spokesperson, President Nancy Pelosi. Press release. “Statement from Pelosi Spokesperson on Paul Pelosi’s Successful Surgery After Violent Assault.” October 28, 2022.
San Francisco Police Department. “San Francisco Police Press Conference on Attack on Paul Pelosi.” C-SPAN. October 28, 2022.
Department of Justice. Press release. “Man charged with assault and attempted kidnapping following break and enter at Pelosi’s residence.” October 31, 2022.
Stocking, Galen, et al. “The Role of Alternative Social Media in the News and Information Environment.” Pew Research Center. October 6, 2022.
Rueca, Robert. Spokesperson, San Francisco Police Department. Email FactCheck.org. October 31, 2022.
KPIX CBS SF Bay Area. “SF DA Jenkins rebuts misinformation about Pelosi attack.” Youtube. October 30, 2022.
United States against David Wayne DePape. Complaint. United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Tolan, Casey et al. “Paul Pelosi’s alleged attacker has released multiple conspiracy theories.” Cnn.com. October 28, 2022.
Biesecker, Michael and Bernard Condon. “Pelosi Home Assault Suspect Had Posted About QAnon.” Associated Press. October 29, 2022.
Lin, Summer, et al. “Accused Pelosi Attacker David DePape Spreads QAnon, Other Far-Right Bigoted Conspiracies.” Los Angeles Times. October 28, 2022.
Swan, Rachel, et al. “Paul Pelosi attack: From nudist activism to online hate, suspect the strange descent of David DePape.” Chronicle of San Francisco. October 28, 2022, updated October 31, 2022.