'No Justice': Verdict in Steinle Case Rekindles Immigration Debate

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate

Steinle's death put San Francisco and its "sanctuary city" policy in the spotlight, as Democrats and Republicans lashed out at city officials for refusing to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.

When a bullet from a gun in the hands of Jose Garcia-Zarate, a non-citizen in the USA who had been arrested and deported multiple times, ricocheted off the ground and killed sightseer Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015, it set off a national debate, which then-candidate Donald Trump inflamed, over the merits or demerits of certain cities' policies of not actively enforcing federal US immigration law or cooperating in handing over illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of drug crimes but no record of violence, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands.

FILE - In this July 7, 2015 file photo, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right, is led into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco.

The San Francisco sheriff's department had released Zarate from jail before the shooting, despite a federal immigration request to detain him for deportation.

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What I don't understand here (and I am not an attorney) is why the jury was unable to find Zarate guilty on the manslaughter charge. "He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle", she said.

In an interview with local media, Zarate said he had made his way to San Francisco because he knew he would be less likely to be deported because of the city's sanctuary policies. Garcia Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle but said it was an accident.

Trump seized on the Garcia Zarate case during the campaign as proof that the US needs his much-hyped - and still un-built - border wall.

Kate Steinle

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up.

The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway and fatally struck Steinle in the back.

The weapon, as it turned out, had been stolen from a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger a week before.

Trump signed an executive order to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, but a federal judge recently blocked it in a lawsuit from two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

"My opponent wants Sanctuary Cities".

The charges were dropped the next day.

Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States back to Mexico five times.

Gillian Christensen, an ICE spokesperson, has said the detainer wasn't honored.




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