Kate Steinle, 31, a medical device sales representative died at San Francisco General Hospital after being shot at Pier 14.  Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, is accused of the murder.  He contends the shooting was an accident.  Steinle had been walking with her father when a single bullet struck her.

“She fought for her life,” the victim’s mother, Liz Sullivan said, “They said how strong she was but they just couldn’t save her.”

Steinle was revived twice on the way to the hospital, but died during surgery. There were several other people on the busy pier that day and they took photos of the man they believed was the shooter.  Police detained Lopez-Sanchez a mile away, an hour later.  The family of Steinle said they are trying to focus on the good and not be angry or hateful.

“All I feel now is love, but I’m thankful I had the time with her and she was the most amazing sister,” Brad Steinle, the victim’s brother said, “If I was able to talk to Kate right now, she would say, ‘Hey Brad, it’s OK, just spread my memory and spread love,’ and I know that would make her smile.”

Steinle’s death has fueled a new round of immigration debates.  San Francisco is a “sanctuary city”, one of many in the U.S.  Their policy is not to help the federal government deport certain undocumented immigrants because they believe it violates human and constitutional rights.  San Francisco’s policy on undocumented immigrants says that police “shall not detain an individual on the basis of a civil immigration detainer after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody.”

Lopez-Sanchez was deported at least 5 times, but continued to return to the U.S. because he said he needed to find work and he could get fairer pay than in Mexico.  He said he mostly worked on ranches or as a stocker in stores up and down the West Coast.  San Francisco authorities released Lopez-Sanchez after he served a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said San Francisco wanted him on a drug warrant so the agency handed him over.  San Francisco authorities eventually dropped the drug charges and released him.  ICE had requested that they be informed of any change in the case (an immigration detainer), but San Francisco did not let them know because they do not believe that the federal government has any legal cause to detain the suspect.

Freya Horne, chief legal counsel to the San Francisco County sheriff, said city officials believe such requests violate Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.  San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said his department requires a warrant or court order to transfer custody to federal authorities.

“As sheriff, I adhere to the laws that govern our land. And San Francisco’s not alone. In fact, well over 300 municipalities have similar laws like San Francisco,” he said, “Because of what has not been reconciled on the federal level, local governments and state governments are devising new laws.”

“When Mr. Lopez-Sanchez was booked into the jail, there was no active Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant or judicial order of removal for him.”

The Sheriff said that the policy’s critics are just plain wrong.

“This woman would be alive today if they did not have this stupid sanctuary law in that crazy city of San Francisco,” said CNN commentator Harry Houck.

Ana Maria Salazar, a former deputy secretary of state and policy adviser in the Clinton administration, said such policies don’t make for more violence.

“All that data shows that migrants who have documents or who are undocumented who come to the United States have lower crime rates.  You cannot say that it was this policy…that resulted in the death of this woman.”

Controversial Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said that the policy is to blame for Steinle’s death and former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush agreed saying it encourages crime.

READ MORE:  Donald Trump’s False Comments Connecting Mexican Immigrants and Crime 

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton took a different approach to the subject, “I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence…If it were a first-time traffic citation, if it were something minor, a misdemeanor, that’s entirely different.  This man had already been deported five times. And he should have been deported at the request of the federal government.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris cautioned everyone on using this case as a generalization to make new immigration policies, “A young, innocent woman, Kathryn Steinle, has been killed, and her murderer must be brought to justice. My office stands ready to support the prosecution to ensure he faces swift accountability and consequences.  On the issue of immigration, our policy should not be informed by our collective outrage about one man’s conduct.”

The gun used in the shooting belonged to a federal agent, according to reports.  It is unclear how the gun got into the hands of the alleged shooter.  Lopez-Sanchez reportedly told the media that he found the gun wrapped up in a t-shirt at the pier.  Lopez-Sanchez has pled not guilty.  He is being held on $5 million bail.

“People are concerned about public safety,” Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said, “This was an act of random violence. And the defendant claimed to have found this gun shortly before just firing it at somebody at close range, shooting an innocent victim in the back.”

Lopez-Sanchez’s public defender Matt Gonzalez said that the shooting was an accident, “There was no motive whatsoever for this defendant to cause any harm to the deceased.  He did not know her. There’s no allegation that this was any kind of crime, such as a robbery attempt or anything like that.”

Lopez-Sanchez has 7 felony convictions, mostly for drug offenses or being in the country illegally.  The last place he lived was in Texas and his most recent deportation was in 2009.  ICE has requested another immigration detainer, saying that the local government does not have to hold the suspect if they disagree with the policy; they simply need to inform the federal government so that they can detain the person after release.


Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s