The California attorney general’s office is reviewing whether Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s husband committed a crime and should face prosecution for pointing a gun at protesters outside their home a day before her crucial primary election, officials said.
The Los Angeles Police Department presented its case to Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office this month, said Josh Rubenstein, the department’s chief spokesman.
David Lacey has been under investigation since March 2, when about 30 protesters arrived at the family’s Granada Hills home before dawn. The demonstration was in response to claims that Lacey had failed to deliver on a promise to meet with black activists and discuss a wide variety of issues, including her decision-making in cases in which law enforcement used deadly force.
Melina Abdullah, a Black Lives Matter organizer and Cal State L.A. professor who has long sparred with Lacey and the LAPD, said she and two others approached Lacey’s door. Seconds later, Abdullah said, she believed she heard a gun cock.
Video of the incident shows David Lacey answering the door with a firearm in one hand demanding the protesters leave.
“Are you going to shoot me?” Abdullah asks.
“I will shoot you. Get off of my porch,” David Lacey responds.
The incident took place just 24 hours before voters went to the polls in a contentious primary race among Lacey, former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón and former public defender Rachel Rossi. Lacey outpaced her rivals and earned 49% of all ballots cast, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a runoff against Gascón in November.
The case is being reviewed by the attorney general to avoid any conflict of interest that would ensue from Lacey’s office having to potentially prosecute her husband.
In an email, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said the agency will “review any material regarding the incident that is presented to us by LAPD” but declined to offer specifics, citing the ongoing investigation.
David Lacey, a former investigative auditor for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment through a spokesman for Lacey’s reelection campaign. He has not been arrested.
Just hours after the incident, Lacey told reporters she had received death threats during the campaign and claimed the hard-fought primary — which featured a January debate that was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, including one who tried to rush the stage — had left her and her husband fearful of who might have been at their door that morning.
“His response was in fear, and now that he realizes what happened he wanted me to say to the protesters, the person that he showed the gun to, that he was sorry, that he’s profoundly sorry, that he meant no one any harm,” she said last month.
Civil rights attorney Carl Douglas, who is representing Abdullah and two other demonstrators involved in the incident, described David Lacey’s actions as “negligent use of force.” He pushed back on comments made by LAPD Chief Michel Moore last month that his clients were hamstringing the investigation by initially declining to speak with detectives.
“We are actively cooperating with the Los Angeles Police Department to make sure that justice is served,” he said. “We do not want there to be any suggestion that Dr. Melina’s failure to cooperate in anyway hampers a fair investigation into what happened that day. Dr. Melina has sat down with an investigating officer and answered every single question she was asked.”