Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
Now that police body cam footage of the brutal hammer strike on Paul Pelosi – the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was attacked late last year – has been released, questions remain about why NBC News suspended news correspondent Miguel Almaguer for what was a generally factual report.
During the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2022, law enforcement responded to a 911 call from Paul Pelosi, 82, from his San Francisco home. After authorities arrived, David DePape, now 43, brutally smashed a hammer against Pelosi’s head. DePape was arrested and now faces charges stemming from the attack.
The events of that night quickly became a source of controversy. Rumors were then fueled by contradictory law enforcement reports of who was responsible for opening the door and the odd behavior of NBC News executives who suspended Almaguer over his report of events from the night of the attack.
The recently released police body camera footage, surveillance footage, and 911 call vindicate Almaguer’s report of the events made one week later.
Pelosi “did not immediately declare an emergency or try to leave his home, but instead began walking several feet back into the foyer towards the assailant,” Almaguer said in the Nov. 4 video report. After this point, a “struggle ensued” that ended when DePape struck Pelosi and police rushed in to subdue the assailant.
“It’s unclear if the 82-year-old was already injured or what his mental state was,” Almaguer also said at the time.
Both statements are factually true with only small points to quibble with.
The footage reveals that Pelosi and DePape were both near the door when it first opened. Pelosi greeted the responding officers with, “Hi, guys, how are you?”
They then moved out of the shadows, both walking several feet back into the foyer with Pelosi consistently moving “towards the assailant” as Almaguer had claimed.
While Pelosi, seen in a shirt and boxers, was clearly under duress in the footage, it was not immediately clear in the footage that both men were fighting for control of a hammer. Pelosi did not attempt to move to the police or ask for help.
“Everything’s good,” DePape said in response to a police question. The hammer was still obscured.
Seconds later, a flashlight shone by an officer illuminated the hammer. DePape grasped it by its hilt while Pelosi gripped the head of what would become a weapon within a minute.
DePape refused to drop the hammer. Instead, he wrested it away from Pelosi and then quickly struck the older man with a hard overhead blow. The actual attack is obscured in the police footage as the men had moved so that the frame of the front door blocked the camera’s view.
Police then pushed through the door and jumped on DePape, quickly subduing him.
The day after Almaguer’s report went live, NBC News attempted to scrub it from its website and social media. The reporter himself was suspended because the report allegedly “did not meet NBC News reporting standards.”
No other explanation was ever given. Both NBC News and Almageur’s agent have refused to release statements on the events. At the time, some speculated that the report further inflamed rumors of a cover-up.
Now that the footage appears to confirm the earlier NBC report, Almaguer’s suspension is even more concerning and questionable. Why punish a news correspondent who did his job? Why try to keep factual details from the public?
San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Adam Lipson, who represents DePape, and the San Francisco District Attorney’s office both opposed releasing the footage to media sources. Both cited concerns that the footage would fan conspiracy theories and rumors.
A judge ordered the evidence to be released on Wednesday.
“You don’t eliminate the public right of access just because of concerns about conspiracy theories,” Thomas Burke, an attorney for a coalition of news organizations in the case, said.