POLITICS

Los Angeles County DA's Husband Points Gun At Black Lives Matter Protester

District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a Democrat, is facing two progressive challengers in Tuesday's primary.

LOS ANGELES — The husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey pointed a gun at Black Lives Matter LA co-founder Melina Abdullah when she and other activists showed up at Lacey’s house early Monday morning to request a community meeting. 

Abdullah and about 30 additional activists gathered near Lacey’s house around 5:40 a.m. on Monday, the day before the LA district attorney primary. Black Lives Matter activists have been requesting a meeting with Lacey for more than two years to discuss her office’s failure to prosecute police officers who kill civilians. More than 500 people have died at the hands of law enforcement during Lacey’s time as district attorney, but her office has prosecuted only one case

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is facing two progressive challengers in Tuesday's primary race.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is facing two progressive challengers in Tuesday's primary race.

On Monday morning, the activists set up chairs on the sidewalk outside Lacey’s home. Abdullah and two other people went to the front door and rang the doorbell to request that the district attorney meet with them outside her house, ahead of Tuesday’s election. Abdullah, who has met Lacey before, noticed that the house was equipped with a Ring camera, allowing people inside the house to see who was at the door. Abdullah thought she heard a gun being cocked inside the home, but hoped she was being paranoid, she told HuffPost. Then David Lacey, the district attorney’s husband, opened the door, pointed a gun at Abdullah’s chest and told her to leave. 

Abdullah posted a 45-second video on Twitter documenting the event, including what she identified as her exchange with David Lacey.

The video starts with Lacey’s husband pointing the gun forward, with his finger apparently on the trigger. “Get off,” he says. 

“Good morning,” Abdullah answers off-camera. 

“Get off of my porch,” David Lacey says. 

“Are you going to shoot me?” Abdullah asks. 

“I’m going to shoot you. Get off of my porch,” he responds. 

When Abdullah asks him to tell Jackie Lacey that she is there, he responds that he is calling the police before slamming the door shut. 

“Wow,” Abdullah says after the door closes. “He pulled a gun and pointed it at my chest.”

The activists remained outside Lacey’s home for another two hours. They took turns speaking and chanted, “Jackie Lacey must go, Jackie Lacey will go.” During that time police officers showed up, cleared a path for the district attorney to leave and escorted her out, Abdullah said.

Lacey’s husband may have violated laws against making a criminal threat and assault with a firearm, Kate Chatfield, the Justice Collaborative’s senior adviser for legislation and policy, said in an email. Both offenses count as “serious felonies” or “strikes” under California’s three-strikes law, Chatfield said.

Asked if she plans to file a police report documenting the incident, Abdullah said that Jackie Lacey “protects the police and the police protect her.”

“As with any incident, LAPD will first investigate and if appropriate bring to an independent prosecutor’s office for review. The California Attorney General’s Office will assist LAPD in this matter,” Shiara Dávila-Morales, chief of media relations for the district attorney’s office, told HuffPost in an email.

During a press conference on Monday, Jackie Lacey accused activists of trying to “embarrass” and “intimidate” her. She spent several minutes criticizing protesters for confronting her in public spaces, at fundraisers and during endorsement interviews. She said she has received death threats.

“I am grateful, however, for this challenge because I had no idea how strong I was until I got ready to come down here,” Lacey said. “And sometimes it takes challenges like this for you to realize what you are made of — who you are as a human being,” she continued. 

Near the end of her remarks, Lacey said that her husband told her he was “profoundly sorry” and that “he meant no one any harm” — despite telling Abdullah he was going to shoot her. “I too am sorry if anybody was harmed,” Lacey said. 

Lacey, a Democrat who ran for reelection unopposed in 2012, faces two progressive challengers in Tuesday’s primary: George Gascón, who oversaw major reforms during his time as district attorney in San Francisco, and Rachel Rossi, a former public defender who also worked on criminal justice reform legislation in Congress. 

“I will never run from the community,” Rossi tweeted on Monday in response to the video of Lacey’s husband. “And I never thought I’d have to say it, but I will also never threaten to shoot community members protesting for change. What kind of leadership is this?”

During Gascón’s time in San Francisco, he also faced protests over his office’s failure to prosecute police officers who shot civilians. In 2018, he filed a restraining order against a frequent protester who wrote #JailKillerCops in chalk on the side of Gascón’s house. But unlike Lacey, Gascón has been an outspoken critic of current laws governing the use of deadly force by police and has pushed for reform. He is endorsed by the LA County Democrats

Black Lives Matter doesn’t endorse candidates but Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the movement who is from LA, has endorsed both Rossi and Gascón. Abdullah earlier told HuffPost that she prefers Rossi but appreciates that Gascón has reached out to Black Lives Matter to discuss policy.

The two candidates who receive the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will proceed to the general election in November.

This story has been updated with Jackie Lacey’s comments from her press conference. 

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