Crime

Jerry Brown: Newman police corporal’s death had nothing to do with ‘sanctuary state’ law

Final rainy farewell for Cpl. Ronil Singh in Hughson

Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh memorial service at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson
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Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh memorial service at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson

California’s “sanctuary state” law had nothing to do with the shooting death of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh late last month, Gov. Jerry Brown told Sacramento’s ABC affiliate, KXTV Channel 10, in one of his exit interviews.

“I think people now are looking to blame somebody because of the terrible things that happened,” the governor said in the interview, “but it had nothing to do with the law of California.”

Singh, 33, was fatally shot about 1 a.m. Dec. 26, minutes after he was flagged down by a Newman resident who reported seeing a man come out of a liquor store and get behind the wheel of a pickup truck, pretty clearly intoxicated.

A 55-hour manhunt resulted in the arrest of a Mexican national living in the state illegally, authorities said. He initially was identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, but that was determined to be one of several aliases. His true name is Paulo Virgen Mendoza.

At a Dec. 28 news conference, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson strongly suggested that sanctuary law restrictions on law enforcement were to blame in the corporal’s killing. Mendoza had two prior DUI arrests in Madera County.

“This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” the sheriff said. “We were prohibited, law enforcement was prohibited, because of sanctuary laws, and that led to the encounter with Singh.

“I’m suggesting that the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited or had their hands tied because of political interference.”

He singled out Senate Bill 54, which was passed in 2017 and limits local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration, though local authorities can report people convicted of some felonies to ICE.

In his interview with Channel 10, the governor noted that Mendoza’s arrests predated the passage of SB 54. He also said police could have done more about Mendoza at the time of his DUIs.

“In this case, the individual had been arrested and actually convicted twice of driving under the influence and there was as warrant out for his arrest and no one picked him up, and he was arrested and ... brought into jail before the sanctuary law was even enacted,” Brown said. “ICE, the immigration people, could have gone out and gotten him. The police or the sheriff could have told the immigration service.”

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