David Lacey, a civil servant for two decades best known as the husband of former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and for video of a tense moment at his front door that went viral in 2020, has died. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer; Lacey was 68.
A retired investigative auditor with the D.A.’s Bureau of Investigation, David Lacey’s reaction to a predawn knock from Black Lives Matter organizers at the family’s home on the eve of the 2020 California primary made him an internet sensation. A video of him confronting the BLM protesters on his doorstep with a gun in his hand, pointing it at activists, and shouting, “I will shoot you. Get off my porch,” went viral and then had severe repercussions for him. The shocking sequence of events was filmed by one of the activists at around 5:40 a.m., on March 2, 2020. While the district attorney had remained upstairs during the confrontation, the incident spawned criminal charges against David Lacey and a civil lawsuit against him and his wife by BLM members—accusing them of assault, negligence, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress—and instantly the entire situation quickly turned the Laceys’ private life into front-page news.
The day after the politically charged incident, as images of her gun-toting husband went national, Jackie Lacey stood for a third term as D.A. and fell just shy of the 50% + 1 majority needed to win the election outright and avoid a runoff.
Deputies from Jackie Lacey’s office tasked with reviewing the David Lacey case declined to prosecute—but then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra took the unusual step of intervening in the matter in August 2020, charging the district attorney’s husband with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm.
The episode was as bizarre for those close to the Lacey family as it was for the millions of viewers who watched the video. “David is an accountant,” a source close to the family told LAMag at the time. “He’s as gentle and unassuming a man as you’ll ever meet.”
In the interim between the brandishing incident at the Lacey home and the impending general election in L.A. County, the protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sent political shockwaves nationwide. Suddenly, Jackie Lacey—once the odds-on favorite to win re-election—found herself in the crosshairs of vehement protests that targeted her, the first Black woman D.A. in L.A. history, as an impediment to a far-reaching overhaul of the criminal justice system. In November of that year, the two-term incumbent Lacey lost the general election to a BLM-friendly upstart in former San Francisco D.A. George Gascón, by more than 264,000 votes.
In June 2021, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber tossed the civil-rights violation claims integral to the BLM members’ lawsuit against the Laceys but allowed the case to move forward on other causes of action. Of the decision to dismiss, Judge Traber wrote that the “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.”
Jackie and David Lacey first met as teenagers in 1974, at Trinity Baptist Church in Jefferson Park. She was singing with the parish choir, one of the few places in South L.A. her strict parents would allow her to venture without a chaperone. One night, he interrupted choir rehearsal, having words with the pastor who had asked that he remove his large hat, which was covering his thick mane of braids plaited, as his wife later recalled, to “blow out” his afro. David refused and began to leave when the choir director, Carl Johnson, intervened and allowed the defiant youngster a seat in a pew, where he caught Jackie’s eye.
“I was instantly attracted to this handsome young rebel who had beautiful eyes and a thick bushy mustache,” Jackie Lacey recalled in an obituary. “I secretly prayed he would ask me out for a date.” He eventually did ask her out, to see a movie. The pair became high-school sweethearts while he attended Crenshaw and she the rival Dorsey. They married at a service at Trinity in 1980.
David attended college at San Bernardino State and later transferred to Cal State L.A., where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He received his CPA license in 2000 after a long stint in the private sector, where he worked in the accounting department for General Telephone and Electronics, Harris Corporation, and Anthem Blue Cross. In 2004, he joined his wife at the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, where he was hired by the Bureau of Investigation as an investigative auditor, working on the criminal prosecution of a variety of financial crimes, including embezzlement, financial elder abuse, real-estate fraud, and public corruption. The couple bought a home in Granada Hills, in the Valley, where they raised two children, became legal guardians to Jackie’s nephew, and were active in Shepherd of the Hills Church, in Porter Ranch.
“I’ve known David Lacey for a couple of decades, said former L.A. County D.A. Steve Cooley. “He was an exquisite gentleman and a model husband and father.”
David Allan Lacey was born in Los Angeles on March 29, 1954, the second of three children born to Aaron and Ophelia Lacey. He is survived by his wife, 65; the couple’s two adult children, April and Kareem; his older sister, Millicent Wirt, and his younger brother, Clifford Lacey. Supervisor Kathryn Barger and former L.A. sheriff Jim McDonnell were among the more than a hundred well-wishers gathered at a large funeral service held on Friday at Shepherd of the Hills.
“I cannot believe how quickly he succumbed to this illness,” Lacey wrote of her husband’s cancer. “I am thankful he is no longer suffering, but half of my heart is gone.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today