LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge today dismissed civil rights violation claims that are part of a lawsuit brought by several Black Lives Matter members against former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her husband.
David Lacey pointed a gun out his front door after members of the group showed up at the couple's Granada Hills home early on the morning of March, 2, 2020. Melina Abdullah, Dahlia Ferlito and Justin Marks brought the complaint against the county's former top prosecutor and her husband last Oct. 19, also alleging assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber issued a tentative ruling Tuesday, heard arguments this morning and then handed down a final decision on the defense's latest challenge to the case. Despite tossing the allegations of civil rights violations, the case will still proceed on other causes of action.
In her final ruling regarding the civil rights claim, Traber said the plaintiffs have not shown in their current or previous arguments how they were lawfully entitled to go onto the Laceys' property to express their views.
“Plaintiffs ... have not cited any authority for the proposition that their free-speech rights are protected as against private homeowners when located at their private residence,'' Traber wrote. “Plaintiffs have had multiple opportunities to attempt to amend this cause of action to state a claim and have failed to do so.''
The judge also dismissed the claim against Jackie Lacey for assault, but not the one for false imprisonment. Not part of the motion were the negligence claims faced by both Laceys and the causes of action for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress facing David Lacey.
Jackie Lacey's lawyer, Mira Hashmall, argued that the false imprisonment allegation against her client was not supported by the evidence.
“She's not alleged to have done anything,'' Hashmall told Traber.
The judge said that she is keeping the cause of action in the case for now, but that it could be subject to review during a future dismissal motion.
On March 23, the judge denied a defense motion to dismiss all claims against the Laceys. Today she scheduled trial of the case for July 25, 2022.
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 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 Gascon, 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.
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.''
David Lacey was charged last August by the California Attorney General's Office with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm. Last month, San Fernando Judge David W. Stuart allowed Lacey to enter a 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.''
Lacey was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, complete13 anger management classes, complete a gun safety course and not to possess any firearm during the 18-month diversionary term.
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