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Husband of former D.A. Jackie Lacey requesting diversion, could avoid jail in gun case

Jackie and David Lacey wear masks and walk hand in hand
Then-Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey holds hands with her husband, David, on the way to a news conference after her defeat at the polls in November.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The husband of former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is seeking entry into a diversion program that would allow him to avoid jail time after he was caught on video pointing a gun at protesters last year, according to an attorney for one of the protesters.

David Lacey, 67, was charged with three counts of assault with a firearm after he pointed the weapon at three protesters — including one of Los Angeles’ most visible Black Lives Matter activists, Melina Abdullah — who were demonstrating outside of the then-district attorney’s home in March 2020.

An L.A. County Superior Court judge will consider the request at an April 13 hearing, which would see David Lacey enter a diversion program for at least 18 months that would require him to perform community service and enroll in anger management and gun safety classes, according to Abdullah’s attorney, Carl Douglas, who was notified of the request this week.

If convicted, David Lacey would face a maximum of one year in jail for each assault count. A spokeswoman for the California attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. David Lacey’s attorney, Samuel Tyre, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Douglas said he was furious that the terms of the diversion request did not require David Lacey to give up possession of any firearms he owns, including the one he pointed at Abdullah.

“He has sacrificed the privilege of carrying that firearm by the reckless decisions he made on March 2,” said Douglas, who plans to join Abdullah in asking a judge to restrict David Lacey from continuing to possess a gun during the hearing on Tuesday.

Abdullah and about 30 others had marshalled outside the Laceys’ Granada Hills home before dawn on March 2, 2020, to protest the then-D.A.'s refusal to meet with Black activists and other organizers in South L.A.. Abdullah was one of Jackie Lacey’s most frequent critics, often attacking her record of not prosecuting law enforcement officers involved in fatal shootings, including several that ended in the deaths of unarmed suspects.

Abdullah, Justin Marks and Dahlia Ferlito rang the Laceys’ doorbell around 6 a.m. Video taken at the scene shows David Lacey answering the door with a handgun pointed in the direction of the protesters, his finger on the trigger. After announcing “I will shoot you,” in response to a question from Abdullah, David Lacey closed the door and contacted Los Angeles police.

The clash came on the eve of a contentious primary as Jackie Lacey sought a third term as L.A. County’s top prosecutor. The Laceys said they had received numerous death threats during the campaign, one of them prompting an investigation by the Long Beach Police Department. A demonstrator also tried to rush the stage during a primary debate between Lacey and her two challengers.

While the former D.A. has apologized for her husband’s actions, she also said he was only trying to protect her. Ex-San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón ousted Lacey from office last November.

Under California law, David Lacey could have been prohibited from owning a firearm for a decade if convicted of the assault charges. It remains unclear whether David Lacey, a former member of the district attorney’s office’s bureau of investigations, used his service weapon that day or a personal firearm.

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“We know if he didn’t have political clout, there’d be no way that any normal person would get to point a gun at people, yell ‘I will shoot you,’ and then get to keep that gun,” Abdullah said. “If the roles were reversed, we know we’d not only be looking at jail time, but also the permanent ending of our rights to have a firearm.”


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