Gavin Newsom orders flags half-staff, says killed Selma officer ‘will never be forgotten’
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued condolences Wednesday following the killing of a police officer in Fresno County.
He said flags at the state Capitol will fly at half-staff in honor of Selma officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr., 24, who was shot to death Tuesday while in the line of duty.
“Jennifer and I join all the family, friends and colleagues mourning the tragic loss of Officer Carrasco, who devoted his life to protecting his community,” the statement said. “His tremendous bravery, dedication and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
His statement did not address comments made by Fresno County law enforcement officials who expressed anger following the slaying allegedly carried out by Nathaniel Dixon, a 23-year-old on probation as part of California’s AB 109 law, commonly called prison realignment.
AB 109 has been controversial, with law enforcement officials often calling it too lenient and advocates arguing that it’s working.
Dixon was sentenced in March 2022 to serve five years, four months in prison, but was released by September 2022 and placed on Post Release Community Supervision.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said Dixon should have served a longer sentence and been in custody on the day of the shooting.
“The governor and certain members of the California Legislature have created a warped system that allows active and violent criminals to receive arbitrary ‘time credits’ in an effort to reduce the state prison population to reach their goals of closing more prison facilities,” she wrote in a letter.
While speaking at a news conference about gun laws on Wednesday, Newsom answered a reporter’s question about Smittcamp’s statement saying the blame is on the DA.
“I’m sick and tired of being lectured by her on public safety,” he said. “With all due respect to her statement, she should be ashamed of herself.”
Smittcamp chose not to charge Dixon for his earlier crimes to the full extent of the law, which would have ensured that he spent decades in prison, a spokesperson for the governor said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to cut its prison population in a 2011 ruling. Incarceration rates had the state’s prisons holding twice their capacity at the time though that rate has since come down.
Advocates also argue the state’s policies had been most punitive to people of color, who are over represented in the penal system.
Smittcamp also got support for her letter from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama.
“A balance of accountability, consequences, and community resources are all needed,” Balderrama said Wednesday on social media. “Sadly, politics gets in the way of common sense reforms and can have terrible and costly results. Thank you (Smittcamp) for telling it like it is!”
A balance of accountability, consequences, and community resources are all needed. Sadly, politics gets in the way of common sense reforms and can have terrible and costly results.
Thank you @FresnoDA for telling it like it is! pic.twitter.com/9bV7GyQMM7
— Chief Paco Balderrama (@BalderramaPaco) February 1, 2023