Jackie Lacey clings to hope in race for LA County DA following clash with critics outside her home

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is clinging to hope that she can avoid a November runoff and keep her post for a third term despite a tough battle from two progressive challengers and a an ill-timed clash with her critics.

Lacey has been under fire from criminal justice reform activists for months. The tension boiled over on Monday, one day before the California primary, when a group of Black Lives Matter L.A. protestors showed up at her Granada Hills home before dawn. The incident captured on video escalated into her husband pointing a gun at them.

Hours later, a tearful Lacey held a press conference and explained that her husband's action was a culmination of rising tensions after months of death threats and aggression from criminal justice reform activists. Then, she apologized.

LA County DA Jackie Lacey apologizes after her husband aims gun at Black Lives Matter protesters outside Granada Hills home
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The husband of the Los Angeles County district attorney pulled a gun on Black Lives Matter activists in a video captured outside of the couple's Granada Hills home before dawn Monday, just one day before the California primary.

"That was from the heart and it was under the emotion of the moment. Now, I'm starting to see a lot more about the incident and reflect on it," she told Eyewitness News. "I do feel that public officials ought to be safe in their own home."

The group was protesting Lacey in front of her house after they said she failed to meet with them. During the protest, her husband opened the door and threatened to shoot Melina Abdullah, a Black Lives Matter organizer, who is heard in the video speaking off-camera.

Lacey maintains that she has reached out to the group several times through intermediaries - as recently as December, adding that it is "so frustrating to read in the paper that I refuse to meet with them."

"I will meet with them, but it shouldn't be for a photo op that they can scream and yell and put it on Facebook," Lacey said.

Lacey is facing the first re-election battle of her two-term career from former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and ex-public defender Rachel Rossi.

Lacey has received heavy criticism during her tenure, facing heat for the racial disparity in county jails, high incarceration rates and her position on the death penalty despite Gov. Gavin Newsom's moratorium on the punishment.

Gascon and Rossi have also hammered Lacey for locking up too many people of color, failing to prosecute police for fatal shootings and other on-duty uses of force, as well as not making enough use of a program she started to prevent people with mental illness from being locked up.

Initial election results show Lacey leading in the race with just over 50% of the vote.

"I'm not declaring victory because there's still a lot of votes that need to be counted but I feel like at least our message is really resonating with the voters," she said.

When asked why her campaign didn't hold an election event, she responded that they "felt like that would be a magnet for another security incident."

"I would've loved to celebrate with my supporters. That part hurt, but we just felt like okay what's important here and what's important here is everybody's safety and that we wait for the results."

Lacey maintains that she is open to meeting with her critics to find solutions to their concerns.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.
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