Tensions between Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Black Lives Matter supporters heightened Monday after the top prosecutor’s husband drew a gun and threatened to shoot an activist on the couple’s porch in Granada Hills.
About two dozen protesters had gathered outside the residence around 5 a.m. Monday, holding up Black Lives Matter signs and chanting their disapproval of Lacey on the eve of the March 3 primary, in which the two-term incumbent is facing two progressive challengers.
One demonstrator shouted through a bullhorn. Another held a sign that read, “#ByeJackie.”
Just before 6 a.m., Melina Abdullah, one of the the most vocal Black Lives Matter organizers in Los Angeles, released video of David Lacey confronting her with a gun.
The footage opens with a man holding up a firearm at his door saying: “Get off of my porch, right now. Get off.”
A woman responds, “Good morning. Are you going to shoot me?”
The man replies: “I will shoot you. Get off of my porch. … Get off of my porch, right now. We’re calling the police, right now.”
He then shuts the door.
By around 7:40 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department officers were standing in front of Lacey’s home as protesters continued to shout, “Jackie Lacey must go.”
The confrontation is being investigated as a “possible assault with a deadly weapon,” LAPD said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.
Later Monday morning, Lacey addressed the incident in a news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown L.A.
She is the first black woman to lead the L.A. County DA’s office, the country’s largest local prosecution agency. Her husband, who is also black, was an investigative auditor in the office until he retired in 2016, AP reported.
Apparently distraught, Lacey apologized, telling reporters that her husband responded in fear.
“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,” Lacey said. “That he’s profoundly sorry. That he meant no one any harm. That it was just him and I in that house and that we really didn’t know what was about to happen.”
She added, “I too am sorry if anybody was harmed. It was never my intent to harm any protester. I just want to live in peace and do my job.”
Activists have long criticized Lacey for her decision not to prosecute a number of high-profile use-of-force cases involving law enforcement officers.
In Tuesday’s election, Lacey faces George Gascón, a former LAPD assistant chief and who left his job as San Francisco’s district attorney to run in L.A., as well as former public defender Rachel Rossi. Both are challenging Lacey from the left.
At Monday’s news conference, Lacey enumerated threats she said she’s received over the years. The protests ramped up in the time leading to Tuesday’s election, the DA said.
In an interview with KTLA, Abdullah said the activists went to her home early Monday “to catch her. We’ve been in front of her office demanding a meeting for 2 1/2 years.”
Lacey said they did not want to comply with her wish that a meeting be held one-on-one or in a small group setting.
“My hope is that one day that might change. … You can vote, that’s one way to speak your mind. But to publicly humiliate people, to say to them, ‘I hate you,’ that you’re a racist. What progress will we make in this world if that’s how we talk to one another?” Lacey said.
Soon after Lacey’s news conference, Black Lives Matter activists set up their own podium on the stairs outside the Hall of Justice.
Sherlyn Haynes held up a photo of her son Christopher Mitchell, who was fatally shot by Torrance police at a Ralph’s parking lot in December 2018.
Authorities said Mitchell, 23, had an air rifle and was driving a stolen car. The District Attorney’s Office found the two officers involved “acted lawfully in self-defense.”
Mitchell’s family said the officers did not need to shoot the 23-year-old.
“My son was murdered, officer still shot him with his hands up,” Haynes said on Monday.
She continued, “Jackie Lacey, you’re not doing your job. … I’m glad you didn’t kill none of our Black Live Matter people, like they murdered my son and the rest of our kids.”
Lacey’s office told the AP that the case could be brought to an independent prosecutor’s office, and said the LAPD is getting assistance from the state attorney general’s office.