President Donald Trump slammed what he called a “disgraceful verdict” in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant, a crime he seized on during his presidential campaign as part of his call for tougher immigration policies.
“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!” he tweeted Friday morning in the wake of a jury’s acquittal of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times before the shooting. “No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration,” the President tweeted hours after the verdict.
A jury acquitted Garcia Zarate of murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, as well as assault with a firearm. Garcia Zarate was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, however. His attorneys claimed the shooting was accidental.
The Justice Department is considering bringing federal charges against Garcia Zarate, according to spokesperson Sarah Flores. All available federal options are on the table, CNN is told.
In particular, on the campaign trail, Trump often cited Steinle’s death as a warning against so-called sanctuary cities. The term loosely refers to jurisdictions that in some way do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The stated reasons vary, from protecting undocumented immigrants to preserving local law enforcement’s ability to gain the trust and cooperation of communities. Some jurisdictions have also been barred by the courts from complying with certain federal requests.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy in the wake of the not-guilty verdict.
Sessions has been critical of sanctuary cities during his tenure as attorney general, and several cities have pursed legal action against the Department of Justice in response.
The US attorney general pushed back after the acquittal, calling Steinle’s death “preventable” and blaming the sanctuary city policy. “San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” Sessions said in a statement.
“While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle’s death — a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer — the people ultimately convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm,” Sessions said.