A San Francisco jury acquitted a Mexican national Thursday of murdering Cal Poly grad Kate Steinle, prompting an angry reaction from President Donald Trump and other federal officials.
In July 2015, Steinle, 32, was walking with her father along a pier in San Francisco when she was shot in the back and killed. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, a repeat felon who had been deported five times, then admitted to shooting Steinle.
A few months prior to the shooting, Garcia Zarate was let out of jail and allowed to stay in the United States following an arrest because San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, does not comply with federal immigration detainer orders. Steinle’s death quickly became a national controversy, and Trump repeatedly spoke out about the issue during his presidential campaign.
At trial, prosecutors argued that Garcia Zarate intentionally shot and killed Steinle. The defense argued that Garcia Zarate accidentally fired the stolen gun that was in his possession.
On Thursday, the jury acquitted Garcia Zarate of charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. Jurors found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration,” Trump tweeted after the verdict was announced. “The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL.”
Tom Homan, the deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, released a statement saying ICE will now work to take custody of Garcia Zarate and deport him. Homan’s statement blamed San Francisco and its sanctuary city policy for not preventing Steinle’s death.
“San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law. This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had simply turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets. It is unconscionable that politicians across this country continue to endanger the lives of Americans with sanctuary policies while ignoring the harm inflicted on their constituents. Following the conclusion of this case, ICE will work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country,” Homan said in the statement.