Attorneys for Black Lives Matter demonstrators who were confronted at gunpoint by the late husband of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey at the Laceys’ home in 2020 want a judge to order a second deposition of Lacey and not allow her to withhold information based on the spousal communication privilege.
The BLM attorneys also have filed separate court papers seeking to substitute the estate of Lacey’s husband, David Lacey, as a defendant. David Lacey died Sept. 5, 2022.
The suit alleges negligence and false imprisonment by Jackie Lacey. The confrontation occurred when members of the group showed up at the couple’s residence the morning of March 2, 2020. Melina Abdullah, Dahlia Ferlito and Justin Marks brought the Los Angeles Superior Court complaint against the county’s former top prosecutor and David Lacey in October 2020, claiming they suffered emotional distress from the incident. Lacey previously submitted a sworn declaration in the case regarding her late spouse’s actions.
“I did not expect him (David Lacey) to pull a gun at protesters,” Lacey says in a sworn declaration filed in support of a Feb. 7 hearing on her motion to dismiss the case. “I did not encourage him to do so, nor did I assist him in any way. I did not point a gun at anyone.”
But in their court papers brought Wednesday, Dec. 14, lawyers for the BLM protesters say the Laceys were aware that the demonstrators were there to confront Lacey and not her husband. Jackie Lacey also knew, or should have known, that confronting uninvited guests at her front door with a loaded firearm was unlawful, the BLM lawyers state in their court papers. The BLM lawyers compare the situation to random home visits from Jehovah Witnesses.
“Surely neither Mr. Lacey or Mrs. Lacey believe that have a right to confront and threaten those uninvited visitors with a loaded firearm,” the BLM lawyers state in their court papers. “And in doing so, it is reasonable that Mr. and Mrs. Lacey communicated about who would confront the protesters, how they would be confronted and what they would do after the confrontation. All of those communications are relevant, unprivileged and necessary to show Mrs. Lacey’s compliance and whether she aided and abetted her husband in the assault of plaintiffs.”
At Jackie Lacey’s first deposition in November, she refused to answer some of the BLM protesters’ attorneys’ questions on the advice of her counsel, asserting the spousal communication and/or spousal testimonial privileges, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers court papers. “At this point the parties cannot agree on an informal resolution of these issues,” the BLM lawyers state in their court papers seeking court intervention.
For several years, protesters, including members of Black Lives Matter, gathered sometimes in the hundreds outside the Hall of Justice, where Lacey’s office was located, every Wednesday to protest against Lacey, she says, adding they came with signs, noise-amplifiers and drums and chanted slogans such as, “Bye, Jackie” and “Jackie Lacey Must Go.” In their court papers, Lacey’s attorneys state that all of the plaintiffs admitted in their depositions that Lacey was not involved in the gun incident on her front porch and that they never saw her or heard her say anything. A hearing on the BLM protester motion to compel Lacey’s second deposition is scheduled Jan. 6, 2022 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber.
Plaintiff Abdullah is a professor and former 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 seeking to confront her for allegedly refusing to meet with them to discuss issues of community concern. In her deposition, portions of which are attached to Lacey’s court papers, Abdullah says that “everyone was stunned” after David Lacey pointed the weapon at them.
” So, I don’t recall what everyone else was doing,” Abdullah says. “I only recall some of what I was doing. But having a gun pulled on me and told that ‘I’ll shoot you, I don’t care who you are,’ kind of threw off my energy.”
Lacey was criticized by Abdullah and other activists for declining to prosecute some 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 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.
David Lacey was charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm, but in May 2021 San Fernando Superior Court Judge David Stuart allowed him to enter an 18-month diversion program to resolve the case, noting that he was a “67-year-old man who has led an otherwise exemplary, productive life.” The judge also noted that there was a “unique politically charged situation that’s unlikely to recur again.”
The misdemeanor case was dismissed against David Lacey in May.
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