Twitter is flooded with people assuming as a fact that David DePape and/or Paul Pelosi were in their underwear when San Francisco police arrived at the scene of the October 28 hammer attack. But is that true? What’s the evidence?
According to the federal affidavit released on October 31, 2022, DePape was wearing shorts during the attack.
The only credible media outlet to report that DePape was in his underwear has retracted it. No credible media outlet has reported that Pelosi was in his underwear, and authorities have not confirmed that information. Even removing the subjective judgment of what is credible from the equation, no news outlet that is repeating the claim has offered evidence or named its sourcing.
The claim appears to have ignited when a single news organization, KTVU-TV, a Fox News affiliate in Oakland, California, reported that DePape was wearing only his underwear when police arrived. The news organization, which is generally regarded as credible, later posted a correction and removed the erroneous information about the underwear from the article.
The article was written by investigative journalist Evan Sernoffsky, who has had a long career in investigative reporting in the Bay Area, having worked as a San Francisco Chronicle criminal justice reporter before coming to KTVU in 2020.
He also retracted the underwear claim on Twitter, writing, “I’m now told by other sources that DePape was NOT dressed only in his underwear. Working to clarify.”
There was no credible evidence that either DePape or Pelosi was wearing his underwear when police arrived. Other sites appear to be citing the original KTVU story without telling readers it was retracted or are making the underwear claim without offering evidence to support the claim. (In order to fact-check the underwear claim, Heavy has contacted the San Francisco Police Department’s public affairs unit to ask about what the men were wearing. We will update this story if response is received.)
Googling the phrase “paul pelosi underwear” points to the KTVU article, with reference to underwear in the SEO title. However, the information is no longer in the story, and a correction has been placed at the bottom.
A separate, unrelated claim about Paul Pelosi relating to comments about DePape’s being a “friend” of Paul Pelosi is supported by police dispatch audio, which you can listen to later in this story. The San Francisco Chronicle confirmed that audio is authentic but wrote, “The dispatcher was relaying that DePape — not Paul Pelosi — had ‘advised that his name is David and that he is a friend.'”
It’s not clear how the Chronicle came to the above conclusion, though, because it did attribute its sourcing. The comment in the audio is: “He states there is a male in the home and that he is going to wait for his wife. He stated that he doesn’t know who the male is but that his name is David and that he is a friend. He sounded somewhat confused.” Police have not clarified it, but they have praised the dispatcher for elevating the incident after perceiving it was serious.
DePape, who knocked Pelosi unconscious in the attack, has now been charged federally with assault and attempted kidnapping. A press release from the U.S. Department of Justice says the suspect brought with him “a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties from the crime scene.” Pelosi said DePape, whom he said he had never seen before, entered his bedroom looking for Nancy, the release states. The affidavit describes how DePape broke into the home through a glass door and surprised Pelosi, who was in bed. Pelosi then managed to call 911.
You can read the affidavit here.
“DEPAPE explained that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender,” the affidavit says. It makes it clear that DePape confessed he was motivated by a belief that the Democratic Party was telling lies. It reads:
DEPAPE stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DEPAPE the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps.’ DEPAPE was certain that Nancy would not have told the ‘truth.’ In the course of the interview, DEPAPE articulated he viewed Nancy as the ‘leader of the pack’ of lies told by the Democratic Party.
DEPAPE also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions. DEPAPE also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DEPAPE.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Correction Says the Story ‘Misstated What Clothing the Suspect Was Wearing’
The headline on the KTVU story originally read, “Alleged Pelosi intruder found in underwear….” But when you click on the story now, the headline reads instead, “Alleged Pelosi intruder has manifesto of conspiracy theories: sources.”
The story says nothing about underwear or what the men were wearing. Instead, it is about DePape’s alleged conspiracy theory filled manifesto. And it contains this correction at the bottom:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated what clothing the suspect was wearing when officers found him.
There is body camera video of the incident; it has not yet been released. Heavy has requested that footage.
The New York Post sought comment on the underwear detail as well but said it had received no response: “Local police, who said they’re working with the US Capitol Police and the FBI to investigate the attack, also declined to comment on a report from a California television station, later retracted, that DePape was clad only in underwear during the attack.” Police did not mention what the men were wearing in their news conferences.
Some prominent personalities, including a former GOP congressman, and a lot of regular people have tweeted or commented about the Paul Pelosi underwear claim.
New Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted an article repeating the claim at Hillary Clinton on October 30, but the underlying article, by a site called Santa Monica Observer, simply attributes the underwear claim to an anonymous “source” and labels it a “theory.” Musk later deleted the tweet.
According to NBC News, “The Santa Monica Observer has also published other fake stories that falsely reported that former Secretary Clinton died in the September 11, 2001 attacks and had been using a body double since then, and that Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, was appointed to a non-existent position in the Department of the Interior under former President Donald Trump.” NBC reported that the site was down after the Musk tweet, but we were still able to access the story. News Guard has raised concerns about the Observer site, calling it a partisan operation.
Journalist Tom Winter told NBC News that DePape was able to get into the Pelosi bedroom where Paul Pelosi was; he is talking to police. San Francisco police say DePape and Pelosi did not know each other before the attack, he tweeted.
He added: “The SFPD also says that there were only TWO people inside the Pelosi home (Paul Pelosi and DePape) when they responded, clarifying statements made at Friday’s press conference which seemed to indicate there was a third person inside the home who opened the door.” CNN reported that DePape was carrying zip ties and duct tape.
Dispatch Audio Has Emerged
Paul Pelosi managed to make a secret 911 call from the bathroom after a Berkeley man broke into his house, and newly released dispatch audio captured the police response to the scene.
TMZ confirmed the dispatch audio of the police response to the Pelosi home.
Pelosi spoke in code during the 911 call and said: “What’s going on? Why are you here? What are you doing to me?” alerting the dispatcher that something was wrong, according to TMZ, which published the audio here.
According to Politico, Pelosi made the secret 911 call after telling suspect David DePape he needed to use the bathroom. His phone was charging in the bathroom.
That started an urgent police response to the scene after an alert dispatcher thought something might be wrong, according to the police chief, in a news conference.
“He states there is a male in the home and that he is going to wait for his wife. He stated that he doesn’t know who the male is but that his name is David and that he is a friend. He sounded somewhat confused,” the dispatcher told an officer, according to the audio.
The suspect threatened to tie up Pelosi, CNN reported.
The New York Post also noted, “Aerial photos of the Pelosi property appeared to show shards of broken glass littering the brick walkway outside a shattered French door, as if it had been broken from the inside out.”
There are photos of that shattered door.
Police have said that DePape broke into the Pelosi home.
They described the incident as a “home break-in.”
The Suspect & Paul Pelosi Were Grappling for a Hammer When Police Arrived
DePape is accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, the husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer in the couple’s home on October 28, leaving Paul with serious blunt-force trauma.
On a blog and website, he was fixated on censorship and made antisemitic comments. In one post, he ranted about government attempts to control information, calling for the arrest of journalists from prominent news organizations. He also posted COVID and election conspiracy theories online and made posts about QAnon. Online records give DePape’s age as 42. DePape, who has been involved in the pro-nudity movement, wrote about former President Trump on his website. You can review some of his social media posts here. He has a history of drug use.
According to The New York Post, DePape was “living in a dilapidated yellow school bus on the street in front of” the home of nudity activist Gypsy Taub in Berkeley. “A Black Lives Matter sign and a flag combining pot-leaf symbols and the LGBTQ rainbow decorate the debris-strewn property. Out front, an unpainted wooden fence sports a hand-lettered sign: ‘News Reporters Go Away,'” the Post recounted.
After receiving the 911 call from Paul Pelosi and being dispatched on an “A-priority wellbeing check” in the early morning hours of October 28, 2022, San Francisco police officers encountered an “adult male and [Nancy] Pelosi’s husband, Paul” in the Pelosi home, Chief Bill Scott said in a news conference.
Chief Scott said in a later news conference that when officers arrived and knocked on the door of the Pelosi home, the door was opened “by someone inside.” Officers observed Pelosi and Depape inside the entryway of the home. The officers remained outside the home’s threshhold. They observed both men, each “with one hand on a single hammer.” Officers gave commands to both men to drop the hammer. Depape pulled the hammer away from Pelosi and “violently attacked him with the hammer,” Scott said. Pelosi was struck at least one time. Officers entered and tackled the suspect and took him into custody. He said that Depape “forced entry” through a rear door of the Pelosi home.
“This was not a random act. This was intentional. And it’s wrong,” Scott said, noting that elected officials’ families “don’t sign up for this… Everybody should be disgusted about what happened this morning.” He praised a dispatcher as a hero for sensing more was going on than Paul Pelosi said in the 911 call; he was talking in “code,” CNN reported.
The motive is still being determined, according to police. Both men were transported to a hospital for treatment, Scott said. DePape is being booked on attempted homicide, elderly abuse, burglary and other charges, Scott said.