A protest outside Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s Granada Hills home early Monday was punctuated by the appearance of Lacey’s husband, who was caught on video pointing a handgun out the front door and ordering the group to leave his property.
Los Angeles police said officers were sent to the 17900 block of Mayerling Street at 5:45 a.m. No arrests or injuries were reported.
Members of Black Lives Matter who took part in the protest immediately condemned the actions of David Lacey. Activist Jasmyne Cannick posted the video online and circulated links to it via email to local media outlets. Black Lives Matter has repeatedly protested against Jackie Lacey, criticizing her for what they see as a failure to hold law enforcement officers accountable for shootings of black suspects, and accusing her of failing to meet with them to discuss the issue.
Jackie Lacey, responding at an emotional late-morning news conference, said her husband acted out of fear and is “profoundly sorry” for his actions. But she said she has been repeatedly threatened and harassed at public appearances while serving as district attorney, and she believes Black Lives Matter is more interested in trying to embarrass her than have a productive conversation about issues.
“Up until now, I have not really wanted to share with you what it’s been like, but I think it’s time, because there’s a bigger purpose here,” Lacey said. “As district attorney of L.A. County, I have received threats, some of them death threats. I have been followed, photographed while with my family, confronted at an art museum, confronted at fundraisers and even at endorsement interviews I’ve had people crash them and videotape me. And all of this is because I chose to do my job. I’m a human being. I’m a public servant. I’ve dedicated my life to the profession that stands up for victims of violent crime and I’m not ashamed of that.
“… Believe it or not the Laceys are private people,” she said. “We expect people (to) exercise their First Amendment rights, but our home is our sanctuary, and I do not believe it is fair or right for protesters to show up at the homes of people who dedicate their lives to public service.”
Less than an hour after Lacey met with reporters, Black Lives Matter members spoke to the media and said they had been traumatized by the gun-pointing incident.
“This morning, in an effort to exercise our First Amendment right, we were threatened,” Greg Akili said. “We shouldn’t have to be in fear. We shouldn’t have to worry whether we’re going to be shot or not.”
He said the group has tried for more than two years to meet with Lacey, to no avail.
“If you look at these barricades behind us, what they say is this office is not open to the public. What those barricades say is we don’t want to hear from you,” Akili told reporters.
Lacey said she has offered to meet with members of Black Lives Matter in the past, but “I felt it should be either one-on-one or a small group. They have rejected those offers. It seems like what they like is to embarrass me and intimidate me. My hope is that one day that might change, that maybe, just maybe, … that someone will want to sit down and have a conversation that’s productive.”
Melina Abdullah, one of the first members of Black Lives Matter, insisted that Lacey had not reached out, despite requests to meet in various forums and with families whose members had been shot by police or deputies. Abdullah said Lacey has her personal cell number.
“This morning when we went to Jackie Lacey’s on the eve of her candidacy for reelection, what we were doing is trying to take her up on her word,” Abdullah told reporters.
Cannick, who posted the video, wrote on Twitter that the frustration dates back to 2016.
“For clarity for folks outside of Los Angeles who don’t know the history, @BLMLA (Black Lives Matter Los Angeles) has been trying to meet with their elected District Attorney for years. She hasn’t met with the Black community since 2016,” Cannick tweeted.
Abdullah told reporters Lacey promised to meet on Jan 23, 2018, with the family of Kisha Michael, who was shot by Inglewood police officers who were later terminated by the department. Frustrated by their inability to arrange a meeting after another promise to talk last year, Abdullah said the group finally went to her home, allegedly supported in the decision by the Stonewall Democratic Club of West Hollywood.
“We set up chairs on the public sidewalk in front of her home … I thought, naively perhaps, that I could go to her door and ring her doorbell and invite her out,” Abdullah said.
“We heard what sounded like a gun being cocked,” she continued. “We were met by guns (sic) in our faces … and he said, `get off my porch’ … and I said `are you gonna shoot me?’ His finger was on the trigger and he had trained the gun at my chest.”
When she told him she was a mother, “he said, `I’ll shoot you. I don’t care who you are,”’ according to Abdullah. “Somehow I mustered the words to say `can you tell Jackie Lacey we’re here for that community meeting she promised.”’
They were off the porch in 30-60 seconds, she said.
David Lacey is heard on the video ordering protesters off of his porch, as he points the gun out the front door. A protesters can be heard asking to see Jackie Lacey, prompting her husband to again order the group off of his property.
Lacey said her husband’s actions Monday morning were “in fear,” and he “wanted me to say to the protesters, the person that he showed the gun to, that he was sorry, he’s profoundly sorry, that he meant no one any harm. … We really didn’t know what was about to happen. I too am sorry if anybody was harmed. It’s never my intent to harm any protesters. I just want to live in peace and do my job.”
Abdullah insisted that Lacey’s house was not off limits given that the D.A. is a public official and that BLM has never threatened the district attorney.
“Jackie Lacey has to be held accountable for the life of Christopher Deandre Mitchell, for the life of Kisha Michael, for all of those 585 people whose names we call when we pour libations,” Abdullah said, referring to a ritual in honor of victims of law enforcement shootings. “We’re not paid organizers, our movement isn’t funded by anything but people’s coffee money. We’re here because we believe we have a sacred duty to be here.”
Lacey, the county’s first black and first woman district attorney, is in a tight race for reelection during Tuesday’s primary. Her main challenge is coming from former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.
Abdullah said an apology wasn’t enough.
“We need her to change. We need her to be accountable or she can retire,” Abdullah said.
For her part, Lacey said she said she would not back away from the job, despite the consequences.
“The people are worth it. There’s 1,000 lawyers, 2,200 employees every day who go in and prosecute some of the toughest criminals in L.A. County to keep us safe. I’m not going to let them down,” she said.