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El Dorado County Sheriff Blames Sanctuary, Marijuana Laws For Deputy Ishmael's Slaying

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini did not hold back in his criticism of California state laws regulating marijuana and immigration Thursday.

The Sheriff said both were to blame for deputy Brian Ishmael's death in the line of duty last month.

"First I want to make something clear, and I ask that you, the media, please call this what this is...don't soften it," Sheriff D'Agostini said. "This tragedy was due to an illegal alien, tending an illegal marijuana garden, who murdered my deputy. That's what it is."

D'Agostini described early moments in the investigation when he says he was unable to bring in federal agents to help identify the pair, because of California's so-called sanctuary state laws. SB 54 restricts local law enforcement from turning over individuals to federal immigration authorities. It does have exemptions, including for any person held to answer for a serious felony.

D'Agostini says he reached out to California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra during the case, who helped his investigators navigate the SB 54 law. D'Agostini also took Governor Newsom to task for not attending deputy Ishmael's funeral.

READ: 4 Suspects Indicted In Death Of El Dorado County Deputy Brian Ishmael

"One morning, out of his busy schedule to respect my deputy and his family I don't think is too much to ask," D'Agostini said.

The governor was at a PG&E meeting. The governor's office responded with a statement reading: "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 CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley."

Ishmael would not be the first local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty by an undocumented immigrant. Newman police officer Ronil Singh was killed in 2018. Sacramento Sheriff Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer Deputy Michael Davis were killed in 2014.

It's Ishmael's tragic death, now renewing a call to action by his sheriff, pleading with the governor and lawmakers for change.

"What we need is a measured and reasonable dialogue between our legislature and law enforcement wherein they take our input seriously," D'Agostini said.

The men accused in the federal indictment still have the El Dorado County charges against them. Both cases will move forward at the same time.

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