How Did Alleged Cop Killer Get Out of Jail So Many Times?
Four times in four months, Nathaniel Dixon was arrested in 2019. In less than a month after being released from jail for those crimes, Dixon was arrested two more times.
That started a series of arrests, convictions, and releases for the alleged gang member, which culminated in the slaying of Selma police officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. on Jan. 31.
This time, there is no bail for Dixon, arrested for the killing of Carrasco. Dixon appeared in court for the first time Friday but did not enter a plea in his arraignment. He returns to court on Feb. 23.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp blames the state’s soft-on-crime laws, such as AB 109 and Proposition 57 for her inability to keep Dixon locked away.
“(People ask) why were all these times he was not in custody, he was not in jail? Well, it’s because sometimes there’s no bed space right in the jail for people who have committed crimes, but maybe have not yet been convicted of them,” Smittcamp said Friday at a news conference.
Smittcamp, along with Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni and Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz, vowed to fight early-release policies.
“That’s why we are here for Officer Carrasco. And he is not going to die in vain if any of us have anything to say about it,” Smittcamp said.
“When is enough enough? I’ve had enough,” Zanoni said.
Six Arrests in 18 Months
A review of court records shows that Dixon, 23 of Selma, was first arrested on June 18, 2019. He was one of four cited for misdemeanor trespassing at a residence by Selma police.
Three times in a three-week period, Selma police arrested Dixon again. The most serious charge was an alleged second-degree robbery and carjacking attempt on Sept. 25, 2019.
He was also either arrested or cited for possession of meth and drug paraphernalia and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. The latter case on Oct. 16, 2019, is when Dixon was finally taken into custody — he had not been arrested on the carjacking charge yet.
Those cases were finally adjudicated. Dixon pled no contest to the robbery charge, and the others were dismissed. He received a one-year suspended sentence and three years probation from Judge Michael Idiart on July 21, 2020. Just three weeks after that, Dixon was arrested again on gun and drug charges by Selma PD on August 7, 2020.
Watch: Feb. 3 News Conference About Slain Selma Police Officer
Released from jail because of emergency COVID policies, Dixon was again in custody, this time arrested by Fresno police on Aug. 19, 2020. An officer spotted a Jeep with an expired registration at Blackstone and Griffith avenues.
“Officers found a loaded (and reported stolen) .40 caliber Glock handgun on Dixon, along with a second firearm, a .22 caliber revolver, inside the vehicle. Both Dixon and the driver were arrested for multiple firearm violations and booked into Fresno County Jail,” Fresno police told GV Wire.
This time, Dixon was back in jail and stayed there. The two August 2020 arrests were consolidated into one court case.
Facing 10 counts total, Dixon pleaded no contest to one count in each case of being a felon with a firearm (from the Aug. 7, 2020, arrest), and one drug possession charge (from the Aug. 19, 2020, arrest). He was sentenced to five years, four months, on March 7, 2022. He had been in jail for 565 days, and was credited with time served.
Dixon was released from Wasco State Prison after serving an additional five months on his sentence on September 22, 2022. Less than a week later, Dixon was in violation of parole for not reporting his address and missed a meeting with the probation office.
He was taken into custody on Oct. 24, 2022, and appeared before a judge on Nov. 15, where his probation was reinstated. But, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with credit for time served. He was released by Dec. 3, 2022.
Smittcamp Explains Plea Deal
Smittcamp says “98%-99% of cases” end in a plea deal.
“We hear this term plea bargain like it’s a dirty word. It’s what we do every day,” Smittcamp said. “Despite the fact, the misnomer in the world and the urban legends are that all prosecutors want to send everybody to prison for every first felony, that’s really not true. And it wasn’t true in the case of Mr. Dixon.”
Smittcamp and Gov. Gavin Newsom have criticized each other about the circumstances leading to Dixon’s alleged slaying of Carrasco, who had been on the force for less than two years and is survived by his pregnant girlfriend.
“Despite all of the misinformation, lies, and bad information that has come from the governor’s office” about how Dixon could’ve spent decades in prison if not for the 2022 plea bargain, “that’s simply not true,” Smittcamp said. “He was looking at about six years, eight months from his last probation report as a maximum,” Smittcamp said.
Smittcamp said Dixon would have served 80% of his sentence prior to Prop 57 — a 2016 voter-approved change on how inmates can earn early-release credits.
She blamed Newsom and his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for manipulating the credit process.
“There is no corrections and there is no rehabilitation that is going on inside those walls. People are just being pushed out, pushed out, pushed out,” Smittcamp said.