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Newsom: ‘I’m Sick and Tired of Being Lectured’ by DA Smittcamp on Public Safety

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Gov. Gavin Newsom made it clear Wednesday that he’s no fan of Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Smittcamp then escalated the war of words about California crime in another debate pitting the state’s Democratic governor against a Republican county district attorney.

On Tuesday, following the shooting death of Selma police officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. and the apprehension of the suspect, a convicted felon released early from prison, Smittcamp issued a scathing condemnation of the state’s sentencing reform efforts — and the governor.

Answering a reporter’s question about Smittcamp’s remarks at a Sacramento news conference Wednesday on gun safety, the governor mounted a counter-offensive.

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

At 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the governor’s office followed up on Newsom’s remarks.

“The Fresno DA chose not to charge this suspect to the full extent of the law, which would have ensured that he spent decades in prison,” the spokesperson said in an email to GV Wire.

Multiple independent sources told GV Wire later Wednesday that the man arrested in the officer’s killing, Nathaniel Michael Dixon, was initially charged with 10 offenses in the case that resulted in a five-year, four-month state prison sentence in March 2022.

Under this plea deal with the DA’s office, he got a pass on his violent conduct in connection with that arrest. This included having two illegal loaded guns in his car, lunging at an officer, trying to grab the officer’s firearm, and forcefully resisting arrest.

At the time of Dixon’s arrest, he was under a domestic violence restraining order and had a prior strike conviction for armed robbery with a deadly weapon.

DA: Governor Is Trying to Shift Blame

In an appearance on KMJ 580 on Wednesday afternoon, Smittcamp fought back.

“I’m literally sitting at my desk laughing because (Newsom) is such a jackass and he is so ignorant of how the system works.” — Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp

“When they have to pucker and they have to recoil and they have to shift blame like Gavin Newsom is trying to do to me today, I quite honestly find it’s comical,” Smittcamp said.

“You know, my phone has been blowing up since he made the statement. And, you know, I’m literally sitting at my desk laughing because he’s such a jackass and he is so ignorant of how the system works, that maybe if he did listen to one of my lectures, he wouldn’t continue to make the mistakes that he makes because California is circling the drain in every aspect.”

She said that Dixon was allowed out of prison early because of accelerated time credits from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Smittcamp said that because of prison overcrowding inmates are paroled before they are rehabilitated and prepared to contribute positively to society.

She also said that plea deals by her office are only presented to the court after thorough evaluations of the accused and doing right by victims.

Said Smittcamp: “The governor needs to focus on fixing his prison system.”

She added that Prop. 47 and Prop. 57 reforms are needed, but California won’t have enough space to house and rehabilitate dangerous inmates until it “builds more prisons.”

Smittcamp also issued a statement Wednesday evening responding to the governor’s criticism of her.

“I would like to invite the governor to my office to have a discussion regarding his policies. Maybe if he would listen to real prosecutors, instead of supporting imposter DAs, he may learn the true
ramifications of his failed policies,” Smittcamp said.

Smittcamp added that she supports Assemblymembers who are currently attempting to pass legislation under AB 15, which would provide that the CDCR documents pertaining to an inmate’s release date and their early release credits are public records.

Smittcamp: Governor Has Officer’s Blood on his Hands

What did Smittcamp say to get under the usually cool and composed governor’s skin on Wednesday?

“Today, 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,” Smittcamp said in a statement released Tuesday night

“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.

“They are released without significant punishment, rehabilitation programming, or educational opportunities. This madness is creating more victims and, furthermore, it is not serving the people who are committing the crimes.”

SLO District Attorney Sticks up for Smittcamp

Dan Dow, who is the San Luis Obispo County DA, took to social media to defend Smittcamp following the governor’s remarks.

Goshen Mass Shooting

Newsom also was asked about a request from Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux to reinstate the death penalty for killers of infants and small children.

Bordeaux is seeking reinstatement after shooters brazenly killed a teen mother, her 10-month-old baby, and four other members of her household two weeks ago.

Answered Newsom: “I think we should find the perpetrators. I think we need to close that case.”

Suspect Nathaniel Dixon’s Criminal Record

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dixon, 23 of Selma, and charged him with murder, three firearms counts, and one count of violating probation.

Here is a look at Dixon’s extensive criminal history:

(GVWire Illustration/David Rodriguez)

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email