Hemet, CA - Tipster testifies in police attacks case
OFF THE WIRE
A police informant testified Monday that a Hemet man told her he wanted to buy a rocket to fire at police after several prior attempts to kill officers failed.
Joy Dickenson’s information, along with DNA evidence, led to the arrest of Nicholas Smit in a series of attacks against Hemet police. Smit is charged with 12 felonies, including attempted murder of a police officer and assembling a booby trap.
Prosecutors said he was trying to kill Hemet police Detective Chuck Johnson to stop Johnson from testifying against him on marijuana charges.
Smit’s defense attorney questioned why Dickenson came forward. He asked if she was enticed by a $200,000 reward offered for an arrest and conviction in the case.
“Realistically, it was a big motive,” Dickenson said.
Dickenson said she met Smit on June 22, 2010, at a property in the Homeland area west of Hemet where Dickenson was visiting a friend. The friend’s boyfriend, Steven Hansen, was Smit’s former roommate.
Smit was angry that he paid Hansen $3,000 for a World War II-era bazooka rocket and it failed to go off.
The dud bazooka round was found June 3, 2010, on the roof of the Los Altos Market in Hemet. Authorities say Smit was aiming it across the street at the Hemet Police Department and the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force, where Johnson worked.
Dickenson said Smit talked about being arrested with marijuana and said a “cop ruined his life.” Smit also talked about previous attacks on two police cars, she said.
“He had no intention of going to prison” for the drug charges, Dickenson testified.
Dickenson said she found out who Smit was by stealing a traffic ticket from him and copying down his name, address and date of birth.
Two days later, Dickenson appeared in a French Valley courtroom on a check fraud charge. That was when she told authorities she had information about the attacks that had been taking place against Hemet.
Dickenson said she couldn't be seen helping police because her husband was affiliated with the Vagos Motorcycle Club and it could place her family in danger.
Hemet police arranged a set-up for Dickenson to hand over the suspect’s identity. An officer pulled her over in her car where she dropped a note with the information on it.
Prosecutors gave Dickenson no plea deal on her the check fraud case. She pleaded guilty to a felony and received probation. In order to collect the $200,000 reward, she said, Smit would have to be convicted with her testimony.
“You never cooperated with police before. Did this $200,000 have anything to do with your change of heart?” defense attorney Robert Gazley asked. “Was it important enough to make up this story and tell it here today?”
“No,” Dickenson answered softly.