Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty Thursday of murdering Kate Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco in July 2015 in a case that sparked a heated national debate over illegal immigration and so-called sanctuary cities, and U.S. immigration officials said he will be deported.
Zarate was acquitted of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. He also was found not guilty of assault with a semi-automatic weapon. He was found guilty of possessing a firearm by a felon. The jury had deliberated for six days.
Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father’s arms. Zarate had been released from a San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.
San Francisco is a sanctuary city, with local law enforcement officials barred from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities with similar immigration policies, but a federal judge in California permanently blocked his executive order last week.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced late Thursday: “Following the conclusion of this case, ICE will work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country.”
ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan added, “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 turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets.”