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DA Blasts California Lawmakers for ‘Reform’ Bill That Set Felon Free To Murder Selma Cop

Fresno, CA – Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp blasted California’s governor and members of the state legislature who supported the passage of a so-called criminal justice reform measure that resulted in the early release of the felon who went on to murder a Selma police officer on Tuesday.

Selma Police Department (SPD) Officer Gonzalo Carrasco, a 24-year-old expectant father, was gunned down in an ambush attack on Jan. 31 after he stopped to assist a woman who flagged him down to report she’d encountered a suspicious man trespassing on her property, the department said in a press release.

As Officer Carrasco got out of his patrol car to investigate the report, 23-year-old felon Nathaniel Dixon opened fire on him, hitting him multiple times, according to police.

SPD Chief Rudy Alcaraz told reporters the attack occurred so fast that Officer Carrasco never had the opportunity to return fire.

Officer Carrasco, a two-year veteran of the SPD, was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds after being taken into emergency surgery.

He was the first Selma police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Dixon fled the scene after the deadly ambush but was apprehended by deputies in the area of Sequoia Street and Fig Street at approximately 12:10 p.m.

The gunman’s firearm was recovered a short distance away from the arrest location, according to the SPD.

Dixon, a felon who has been convicted of robbery, drugs, and firearms charges and served prison time in the past, was booked into the Fresno County Jail on charges of murder, probation violation, and felon in possession of a gun and ammunition, KFSN reported.

His bail was set at $1.2 million.

Dixon was sentenced to five years and four months in prison as recently as March of 2022, but was out on the streets on Post Release Community Supervision by September under California’s “prison realignment” law, The Fresno Bee reported.

“The shooter is an admitted gang member and has been arrested for several felony offenses that were prosecuted by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office for charges related to robbery, weapons, and drugs,” Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told reporters, according to KBAK.

Smittcamp said Officer Carrasco “was shot and killed in cold blood by a 23-year-old felon with no regard for human life.”

“Governor Gavin Newsom, and every legislator in the state of California who supports this over-reaching phenomenon they try to disguise as legitimate criminal justice reform, has the blood of this officer on their hands,” the outraged prosecutor added, according to KBAK.

Dixon’s early release from prison was the result of California Assembly Bill 109, which allows for offenders deemed to be non-violent or to have committed so-called non-serious offenses to be released onto probation, KBAK reported.

According to court documents, Dixon was convicted of second-degree felony robbery in 2019 and remained in jail until July of 2020, when he was placed on probation, KSEE reported.

He was arrested for drug possession and carrying a loaded gun just one month later.

Dixon was arrested on five more felonies and a misdemeanor on Aug. 19, 2020, according to court records.

Among those offenses were charges for methamphetamine possession, felon in possession of a firearm, and resisting a police officer, KSEE reported.

Dixon remained in custody until he was transferred to the state prison in April of 2022.

He was back out on the streets by September.

Dixon was arrested the following month for violating his probation and spent another two weeks in jail before being turned loose yet again, KSEE reported.

He is due to appear in court on Friday on the charges associated with the murder of Officer Carrasco.

Dixon could face the death penalty if he is convicted, KSEE reported.

Smittcamp said changes needed to be made to help keep offenders like Dixon behind bars, according to KBAK.

“We must also focus our energy on demanding that our legislators do more to hold criminals accountable for their actions,” she said.

“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,” Smittcamp continued. “Dangerous criminals are being released from our prison system by these accelerated and exaggerated time credits and numerous opportunities for early releases.”

The prosecutor said many of those offenders are emboldened by the lack of consequences, KBAK reported.

“When they get out, they are empowered to continue and intensify their violent behaviors, as they have not had enough consequences or treatment,” Smittcamp said.

“Tonight, in the County of Fresno, we have two families that are suffering loss. The family of the slain officer, and the family of the shooter who will now be facing murder charges,” she said. “If the prison system did an effective job of ‘corrections and rehabilitation,’ this would not be the case.”

“The Governor and his political allies who continue the quest to close state prisons are increasing the incidents of violence to everyone who lives in, or visits, the state of California,” Smittcamp added. “No city or county is safe from the wrath of this misguided thinking, and this mismanaged prison system.”

The prosecutor accused lawmakers of turning a blind eye to the problem, KBAK reported.

“How many more innocent officers and victims do we have to have before these politicians wake up and realize the destruction they have created?” Smittcamp asked. “It is time to shine light on the truth of what is going on in the California prison system and make some real changes. It is time to return to a place of responsibility and accountability.”

Newsom issued a quick response to Smittcamp’s criticisms and said she should be “ashamed of herself,” KFSN reported.

“I’ve been listening to this for years from her. She has the prosecutorial discretion. Ask her what she did in terms of prosecuting that case,” the governor said. “I’m sick and tired of being lectured by her on public safety. With all due respect to her statement, she should be ashamed of herself and should look in the mirror.”

Smittcamp doubled-down on her stance in a follow-up statement on Wednesday, KFSN reported.

“Governor Newsom continues to demonstrate his ignorance and lack of understanding of how the criminal justice system works,” she wrote. “His arrogant and defensive response is proof positive that he is attempting to deflect responsibility for his failed policies.”

She also publicly invited Newsom to meet up with her at her office to talk about California’s policies, KFSN reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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