Court blocks Steinle family lawsuit vs. San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. appeals court ruled Monday the parents of a woman killed by an illegal immigrant who was released from custody despite a federal request that he be held cannot sue San Francisco for negligence over her death.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to reinstate a lawsuit the parents of Kate Steinle filed against the City of San Francisco and its former sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, in the July 2015 shooting by Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate.

The death of Kate Steinle has drawn local interest as her parents have a connection to Greenville. Steinle’s mother, Joan (Sullivan) Steinle, attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greenville and graduated from Greenville High School in 1964. Her father attended Greenville’s North School and graduated in 1965.

Mirkarimi released Garcia-Zarate, a Mexican national, from jail three months before the shooting despite a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to inform them of his release date and hold him until they could pick him up for deportation proceedings. Garcia-Zarate already had been deported five times.

A San Francisco jury in 2017 acquitted Garcia-Zarate of murder but convicted him of illegal gun possession. Garcia-Zarate said a gun he found on the pier accidentally fired when he picked it up.

He also faces federal gun charges to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The gun used in the fatal shooting belonged to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger who reported it stolen from his car parked in San Francisco. Steinle’s parents also named the federal government as a defendant in their lawsuit because the ranger allegedly had left the gun in plain view in an unlocked car on a downtown street. That part of the lawsuit is moving forward.

Staff report

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