We recently discussed the case of the McCloskeys in St. Louis where they were charged with felony crimes after displaying weapons outside of their home in response to protesters. I have raised serious concerns over the viability of those charges. Now, however, we have a similar case brought against the husband of Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. The Lacey home has been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters in what is becoming a common practice. While the first black District Attorney in Los Angeles, Black Lives Matter protesters have been calling for her ouster and said that they would be holding a community meeting in front of her home. Politicians have responded to the BLM protests and some, like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), have rescinded their endorsements of Lacey recently, Lacy’s husband, David Lacey appeared at the door waiving a gun and warning “I will shoot you. Get off of my porch.” What is interesting is the comparison in the charges in the McCloskey and Lacey cases.Lacey, 66, is only facing three misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles Superior Court against David Lacey for assault with a firearm. In St. Louis, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner charged both of the McCloskeys with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.
Notably, assault with a deadly weapon is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony under California law. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by six months in the county jail as a the maximum sentence. As a felony, it can go as high as four years.
In the videotape below, the encounter only lasts a few seconds. As a criminal defense attorney, I would view this as a tough case but there are arguments to be made. The protesters certainly appear entirely peaceful, but Lacey specifically states that they are going to call police. He also does say that he will shoot them if they do not get off his porch. He could argue that these words clearly indicate that he is not threatening imminent harm. While he states a threat “if” they do not comply, he also states that he would rely upon the police if they do not comply.
If the multiple charges are derived from the same incident, courts will often issue a sentence to run concurrently rather than consecutively. Notably, Lacey points the gun three times in the short encounter in this videotape: