The Trial of Dan White: Trial Testimony of Cyr Copertini
Source: The Trial of Dan White by Kenneth W. Salter (1991)


Q Mrs. Copertini, on November 27th, which was a Monday, was that a regular business day at the City Hall?

A Yes

Q Did you see George Moscone sometime after he arrived at work that day?. . .

A He Proceeded me. I saw him about a quarter of 9:00 when I arrived.

Q At about quarter of 9:00 when you arrived, were you aware that there was anything that was going to happen that day such as an announcement of interest to the citizens of San Francisco?

A There was to be a news conference to announce the new Supervisor for the Eighth District (position resigned by Dan White).

Q What time was that news conference scheduled?

A Originally 10:00. But when I got there I found out it had been changed to 11:30.

Q Was it at 11:30 a.m. that George Moscone was scheduled to make a public announcement of the Supervisor for District Eight?

A Yes.

Q Do you know who he was going to announce? . . .

A Dan Horanzey.

Q That's the gentleman who is the Supervisor now of District Eight, isn't it?

A. Yes.

Q Mrs. Copertini, at approximately 10:30 o'clock a.m. when you saw Mr. Daniel White, he appeared in front of your desk, . . . do you recall how he was dressed?

A Very nicely Very nicely. A three-piece outfit. A jacket and matching trousers, and then something covering his shirt. I couldn't tell you if it was matching sweater or vest. But, very nice.

Q What did he say, if you can recall?

A He said, "Hello, Cyr. May I see the Mayor?"

Q Did you respond to that? . . .

A I said, "He has someone with him, but let me go check with him."

Q And what did you do?

A I went into the Mayor and told him that Supervisor White was there to see him.

Q What did he say?

A He was a little dismayed. He was a little uncomfortable by it and said, "Give me a minute to think." And then he said, "Oh, all right. Tell him I'll see him, but he will have to wait a couple of minutes."

Q Did you go back to the area where your desk was?

A Not immediately. I asked the Mayor shouldn't I have someone in there with him, and he said, "No. No. I'll see him alone.” I said, "Why don't you let me bring Mel Wax (Mayor's Press Secretary) in?" And he said, "No. No. I will see him alone," and then I went back.

Q Did you tell him anything?

A I said it will be a few minutes.

Q Did he say anything to you?

A He asked me how I was and how things were going. Was I having a nice day.

Q Was there anything unusual about his tone of voice?

A No, I don't think so.

Q Did he seem to sound any differently than he did on other occasions?

A No. He seemed nervous, but at that point I wouldn't say that the tone of voice was any different.

Q Was there some conversation that took place between you Mr. Daniel White apart from an inquiry as to how you were?

A I asked him would he like to see the newspaper while he waiting? He said, no, he wouldn't and I said, well, that's all There's nothing in it anyway unless you want to read about Caroline Kennedy having turned 21. And he said, "21? Is that right." He said "Yeah, that's all so long ago. It's even more amazing when you think that John John is now 18."

And then he said he would like a glass of water.

Q After you had gotten him a glass of water, was there discussion had between you and Mr. Daniel White?

A No. He took a sip of water. It was about that time that he was admitted to the Mayor's office.

Q Do you recall about what time this was that he was to the Mayor's office?

A I would have to think maybe between 20-about 20 of 11:00.

Q And had he been there approximately ten minutes at that time?

A Yes.

Q Did the Mayor have any other appointment scheduled for that morning prior to the 11:30 press conference and announcement?

A No, I don’t think he did. No, because the news-oh, yes, he did. I am sorry. Yes, he had Phil Kearney, who was coming in at 11:00. That’s right.

Q In what manner did the Mayor indicate that he was ready to see Mr. Daniel White?

A I don’t remember that clearly. I'm told that I was on the phone and he buzzed. I got off the line, answered his line, and said, "Go on in now.”

Q Did you tell Mr. Daniel White that he could go in?

A Yes.

Q Did he respond in any way to that?

He said, "Good girl, Cyr."

Q After he went in there did you hear anything of an unusual nature that was coming from the Mayor's office?

A I left the room briefly and when I came back, why, I could hear Mr. White's voice that was raised slightly.

Q Could you hear the Mayor's voice?

A No.

Q Now, at some point after Mr. White had entered the Mayor's office and you had heard this voice which you have just described, did you hear anything else which caused you to investigate or make any inquiry of any sort as to its source?. . .

A Well, I heard a-a series of noises, a group and then one, and I went to the window to see if something was happening out in the street, and the street was rather extraordinarily calm. For that hour of the day there is usually more-there wasn't really anything out there.

Q Could you describe these noises for us that caused you to make this inquiry to the extent that you did?

A Well, they were dull thuds rather like-I thought maybe it was an automobile door that somebody had tried to shut by, you know, pushing, and then finally succeeding.

Q Was it more than one sound?

A Yes.

Q After these sounds did you ever see Mr. Daniel White leave the Mayor's office?

A No.

Q Did Mr. Nothenberg come into the Mayor's office, or enter the Mayor's office, at some time after Mr. Daniel White had entered and you heard these sounds that you've described coming from the office?

A Yeah. What happened was that he left to tell Phil Kearney that it was no point in keeping it. But then he came back to me right away and said, "Oh, I guess we can, go ahead. I just saw Dan White leave."

So then he went into the Mayor's office and said, "He isn't in here." And I said, "Well, maybe he went in the back room." And then Rudy went in the back room.

Q After Mr. Nothenberg went into that room, what happened next in order?

A He just gave a shout saying, "Gary, get in here. Call an ambulance. Get the police."

Q Who was Gary?

A Inspector Womack, who was detailed to the Mayor's office.

Q Mrs. Copertini, do you know if Mr. White had visited the Mayor at any time after Mr. White had tendered his resignation from the Board of Supervisors?

A Yes.

Q Do you know if that was more than one time that he visited  the Mayor after he'd tendered his resignation from the Board of Supervisors of District Eight?

A I can specifically recall twice. Once when he had said that he had wanted the resignation back, and the other time when Mayor Moscone wanted to have a chat with him. And that was after that. I think it was the following Saturday.


Q Mrs. Copertini, on November 27th, 1978, and, perhaps a week preceding that time, was there any apprehension that you were aware of with regard to the People's Temple incident that had occurred sometime earlier?

A Concern.

Q All right. Then I would take it that concern was concern for the safety of individuals at City Hall, is that correct?

A Not exclusively. It was concern about the situation in the City. All parties.

Q Were you alerted to any possible security precautions or anything such as that?

A No.

Q You mentioned that you first saw Dan White about 20 minutes to 11:00 or so?

A No, About 10:30 I said.

Q About 10:30. At that time did you notice anything unusual about his appearance? You mentioned that he was nervous?

A He - he looked  just fine. He really looked nice. You know, his clothing was nice. And it was kind of a gray day. It didn't clear up till later, so it was kind of brightish beige, or something. He was kind of warm looking. His hair was a little looser than usual. Like, he just washed it. That's about it.

Q Do you recall his color?

A He might have been a little paler.

Q Do you recall describing him as a bit paler than usual?

A Yes.

Q He seemed nervous or agitated?

A He seemed nervous.

Q Now, when Mr. White-when you first saw him, I take it he was standing in front of your desk, is that fair?

A Yes.

Q Was it unusual for Supervisors to enter your office unannounced?

A No.

Q Generally speaking, would it be fair to say that Supervisors had access within the Mayor's chambers to your desk area?

A Yes.

Q So it wasn't uncommon that Dan White would be there?

A Correct.

Q He did, of course, stop at your desk, which would be proper, correct?

A Right

Q And he did ask you to arrange an appointment with the Mayor?

A Right.

Q Mrs. Copertini, if I understood your testimony correctly, you then went into the Mayor's main office?

A Yes.

Q And you suggested to the Mayor that Dan White was outside and would like to see him?

A Right.

Q What was the Mayor's reaction to that, do you recall?

A I would say discomfort.

Q In other words, he really didn't want to see Mr. White on that morning?

A I can't say that. He was working on his news-his remarks for the news release and, you know, had devoted the morning to it. And just, I think, he wondered why he was there.

Q Do you recall making a taped statement shortly after this tragedy?

A Yes.

[Mr. Schmidt introduced a taped statement by Mrs. Copertini.  At the lawyer's request, Copertini read a portion of the statement.]

Q Having read that, Mrs. Copertini, would it be fair to say, then, that the Mayor did not really want to see Dan White?

A I'd say that he was uncomfortable about it, right. Yes.

Q In fact, to use your own words, you said, "Oh. He said didn't really want to see him?”

A If I said that I-I don't remember it now. I truly do not. As - I don't.

Q In any event, the Mayor asked you to go out and tell Dan it would be a few minutes?

A Right.

Q About how long was Dan White out near your desk totally?

A I'd say about ten minutes. . . .

Q Is the Mayor’s main office soundproofed?

A Not successfully so if it was intended to be.

Q In any event, the doors are fairly heavy, are they not?

A Yes.

Q And the door was shut behind Dan White?

A Yes.

Q About how long was it before you heard the raised voices?

A I-I don't know. About five minutes maybe.

Q And your recollection is you heard only one raised voice?

A Yes.

Q And, if I recall your testimony, you said it was a bit high and excited?

A Yes.

Q Did that voice appear to be coming from the main office, the Mayor’s quarters?

A Yes.

Q About how long thereafter was it before you heard the thuds?

A Maybe ten minutes.

Q Did you hear any other voices after you heard the high and excited voice of Dan White coming from that main office?

A No.

Q Earlier in the day Mrs. Copertini, was there anything unusual that occurred in and about Room 200 City Hall?
And by earlier in the day I mean on the morning of November 27th?

A Yes. As I was coming to work, why, there were a group of people coming upstairs and going into the reception room.

Q Were you aware of their purpose in being in the reception room.

A Yes, I was told they were people from the Eighth District who were presenting petitions in support of retaining Dan White.

Q Did you in fact eventually accept petitions from those persons?

A I did.

Q Did the persons seem orderly and calm?

A Oh, yes.

Q Did they request an audience with the Mayor on that morning?

A Yes.

Q Was that request honored?

A No, it was not.

Q About how many petitions do you think you received on that morning?

A stack maybe, what, an inch high. About like that (indicating).

Q Did each of the petitions have signatures on them?

A Yes.

Q As I understood your testimony, you took those petitions from one member of the group, is that accurate?

A Yes.

Q And did you make any promises with what you would do with those petitions?

A I said I would give them to the Mayor.

Q Mrs. Copertini, when was it that you first knew that Dan Horanzey was going to be appointed to the Eighth Supervisorial District?

A I can't be sure. It was several days. Maybe a week.  I'm just really not sure.

Q By several days or a week, do you mean prior to the 27th?

A Prior to the 27th.

Q Were there other candidates that were in the running for that seat?

A Yes.

Q Were any of those candidates notified that they would not receive that appointment?

A I'm told they were.

Q Were you ever told whether or not Dan White was apprised. that he would not be reappointed?

A No. I had knowledge of the whole thing by a wire that went out, and I could not have told you. I did not do the wire.

Q Specifically on the morning of the 27th, was it a particularly busy morning for the Mayor?

A No, because of the change of the time of the news conference. That left us with a 10:00 o'clock void. It was busy to the extent that he was making a number of phone calls that he clearly wanted to have done before the announcement, and that he wanted to prepare  his remarks, which he did by handwriting them.

Q Then these remarks would have been for the purpose of the press conference with regard to the appointment of Dan Horanzey?

A Yes.

Q Did he at any time ask you to get Dan White on the telephone on that morning, or anything such as that?

A No. I was not the only person placing calls for him although.

Q Had you seen anyone else in with the Mayor on that same morning, on the morning of the 27th?

A I saw Harvey Milk leaving as I was coming in. The presumption is he had been in with the Mayor.

Q You do keep the appointment calendar?

A Correct.

Q Did Mr. Milk have an appointment that morning?

A No.

Q You mentioned that or, perhaps, you didn't mention it, but the statement that was read it was suggested that it couldn't have been easy Mayor Moscone to have told Dan White he was not going to be reappointed. Is that fair?

A That’s fair.

Q Was there any personal animosity between George Moscone and Dan White?

A I would say there was empathy.

Thank you. As a matter of fact, they got along pretty well?

A As far as I know.