A judge Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss all civil allegations made by Black Lives Matter members against former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey after her husband pointed a gun at the group when they showed up at the couple’s home last year.
However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber found issues with half of the remaining four claims against Lacey in the lawsuit. She gave the plaintiffs 20 days to file an amended complaint.
Melina Abdullah, Dahlia Ferlito and Justin Marks brought the complaint against Lacey and her husband last Oct. 19, alleging civil rights violations, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
In her ruling regarding Jackie Lacey, Traber said the plaintiffs can move forward with their negligence claim, but will have to provide more details to support the allegations of civil rights violations and false imprisonment. She dismissed the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, which she said the plaintiffs had agreed to do anyway.
Lawyers for Jackie Lacey argued in their court papers that the plaintiffs’ civil rights were not violated because constitutional free speech rights do not extend to private property. Traber said she was not convinced by the plaintiffs’ argument to the contrary.
“The alleged fact that the residence had no fence or other barrier preventing the plaintiffs from walking from the street to the front door does not convert the residence into property that is freely and openly accessible to the public,” Traber wrote.
The assault and battery claims were only filed against David Lacey, whose attorney only sought to dismiss the claim for civil rights violations. Traber ruled that just as with Jackie Lacey, the plaintiffs will have to provide more facts to support that claim in her husband’s case, as well.
Abdullah is the chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. She and other BLM demonstrators went to the Laceys’ home on March 2, 2020, seeking to confront the D.A. for refusing to meet with them to discuss issues of community concern. Lacey had come under fire from activists for declining to prosecute law enforcement officers involved in fatal on-duty shootings during her two terms in office. David Lacey opened the door after the plaintiffs rang the bell and video images show him pointing a gun and saying he would shoot if the visitors did not get off his porch.
“The plaintiffs … believe that Jackie Lacey aided and abetted (David) Lacey’s decision to cock, load and then point the handgun directly at Dr. Abdullah’s chest and at Ms. Ferlito’s and Mr. Marks’ bodies,” the suit states. “The plaintiffs were unarmed and had done nothing to justify this use of deadly force against them.”
The encounter occurred a day before Lacey — the first woman and first Black prosecutor to hold the top post since the office was created in 1850 – – was forced into a runoff with former San Francisco County District Attorney George Gascón, who ultimately was elected.
Lacey later apologized on behalf of herself and her husband, but stressed that she has been the target of repeated threats while in office, including death threats, and said her husband acted out of fear when the commotion began outside their home at 5:30 a.m.
David Lacey was charged last August by the California Attorney General’s Office with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm.
In her concession speech, the county’s top prosecutor thanked her family and paid tribute to her husband, whom she called her “hero,” saying he “stood by my side” and was “willing to put his own life in danger in order to protect me.”