Sacramento, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom skipped out on the funeral of a deputy who was murdered in the line of duty, opting instead to meet with members of a gas and electric company.
El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini discussed Newsom’s absence from El Dorado County Deputy Brian Ishmael’s memorial service during a press conference on Nov. 7 – two days after the slain hero was laid to rest.
“I want to note that, noticeably absent from my deputy’s funeral on Tuesday, was our governor,” Sheriff D’Agostini said.
He noted that he “absolutely” believed the snub was a gesture of disrespect.
“He had an important meeting with [Pacific Gas and Electric Company],” Sheriff D’Agostini said of the California governor. “But one morning out of his busy schedule to respect my deputy and his family – I don’t think is too much to ask.”
Newsom’s office later noted that the governor wrote a letter to Deputy Ishmael’s family, and that one of his representatives attended the funeral service in his stead, The Sacramento Bee reported.
“Governor Newsom was represented in Deputy Ishmael’s funeral by his public safety liaison Wayne Bilowit, who presented a letter to the family on behalf of the governor and [California Highway Patrol] Commissioner Warren Stanley,” governor’s office spokesperson Vicky Waters told the paper.
During the Nov. 7 press conference, Sheriff D’Agostini and other law enforcement leaders criticized the state of California’s “sanctuary” laws, which they said severely hindered their investigation into Deputy Ishmael’s murder.
Four men have been indicted in connection with the deputy’s death – two of whom are illegal aliens.
Because state law prohibits federal immigration authorities from being able to question inmates at the county jail, it took an extra two days to identify the gunman and his accomplice, investigators said.
Due to the delay, other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy were able to escape, Sheriff D’Agostini noted.
“Please call this what this is – don’t soften it,” the sheriff told reporters. “This tragedy was due to an illegal alien tending an illegal marijuana grow who murdered my deputy. That’s what it is.”
U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said that the delays were unnecessary and wasted valuable time.
“We shouldn’t have to go through these hurdles to try to figure out who two guys are from Mexico who just killed a deputy sheriff,” Scott said, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Sheriff D’Agostini told reporters that Deputy Ishmael’s murder could have been prevented.
“What happened to my deputy was predictable,” he said. “It was predictable that if you legalize marijuana and put into place a regulatory scheme, it does nothing more than drive that industry underground and allow the black market to thrive. We in law enforcement have been saying that for decades.”
“If you allow criminally-minded, illegal aliens to infiltrate our communities with more protections than our average citizens, they will take advantage of that and victimize our communities,” the sheriff reiterated.
He urged government leaders to repair “deficits” in the laws to prevent incidents like Deputy Ishmael’s murder from happening again in the future.
“We in law enforcement are the experts on how to keep our communities safe,” Sheriff D’Agostini said. “This is what we do…please let us. Give us the respect we deserve regarding these issues.”
The sheriff also urged state leaders to allow law enforcement to work collaboratively with federal law enforcement agencies.
Deputy Ishmael was fatally shot while responding to an alleged robbery in the early morning hours of Oct. 23.
The 911 caller, Christopher Ross, claimed that two individuals were stealing marijuana plants from the garden outside his Sand Ridge Road home, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Deputy Ishmael and his ridealong, an off-duty San Joaquin County deputy, responded to the outdoor grow and yelled for anyone who was on the property to surrender.
That’s when the gunman opened fire, striking Deputy Ishmael above his ballistic vest.
The San Joaquin County deputy was also wounded, but both he and Deputy Ishmael managed to return fire, striking the gunman, who was later identified as Juan Carlos Vasquez Orozco, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Deputy Ishmael died of his wounds just minutes after the shooting, police said.
Sheriff D’Agostini later said that Ross had “a business arrangement for the leasing of the land to grow the marijuana on” with the men involved in the shootout.
Mexican national Vasquez Orozco, 20, was overseeing the site’s security at the direction of Mexico-based conspirators, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Mexican national Ramiro Bravo Morales, 22, entered the U.S. illegally approximately six months before the shootout, investigators said.
Vasquez Orozco and Morales were living at the illegal grow site, and were both present at the time of the shootout.
A fourth suspect, Jorge Lamas, was later apprehended in Yuba City in connection with the marijuana grow conspiracy, The Sacramento Bee reported.
According to investigators, he acted as a foreman for the site on Ross’ property, as well as a second location in Georgetown.
Ross and Vasquez Orozco have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Deputy Ishmael, and it is unclear whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty against either of them.
In March, Governor Newsom signed an executive moratorium suspending the use of the death penalty in the state, but the killers could still be sentenced to death even if the sentence isn't carried out.
Vasquez Orozco and Morales have been charged with being illegal aliens in possession of a firearm, Scott said during the press conference.
All four men were federally indicted on charges of discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense, manufacturing marijuana, and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.