When an illegal immigrant who had been released from jail instead of being deported for a sixth time was found not guilty in November in the 2015 shooting death of a 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, it caused a national outrage. President Trump, along with many others, blamed San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy for 45-year-old Jose Ines Garcia Zarate being free to roam the streets in the first place and felt that justice had not been meted out.
Steinle was walking on a popular San Francisco pier with her father when she was fatally shot by Zarate, according to the Associated Press. Zarate claimed he had found the gun moments before wrapped in cloth and had accidentally fired it, not knowing what it was. The bullet ricocheted before hitting Steinle.
However, Zarate initially claimed that, after finding that gun, he shot at a “sea lion” or a “black fish” and accidentally hit Steinle, according to SF Gate. He also claimed the gun went off when he accidentally stepped on it, gave a hugely inaccurate account of how far he was away from Steinle at the time, claimed he was born in 1863, and insisted he was from Columbia instead of Mexico.
But on Nov. 30, Zarate was found not guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon, according to CNN. He did, however, get charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The gun he used had gone missing from the car of a federal ranger four days before the Steinle was killed.
On Friday, Zarate was sentenced to three years in jail for that illegal gun possession charge. However, that does not mean he won’t be roaming the streets again until 2021. Since Zarate has been in jail since July 1, 2015, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng included the time he’s already served.
That means, presumably, Zarate will be free later this year. As for whether he’ll be deported again, it’s not known. Shortly before he shot Steinle, Zarate had been released from jail the San Francisco sheriff’s department despite a deportation request from federal immigration officials.
"San Francisco is and always will be a sanctuary city," Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement shortly after Zarate’s Nov. 30 acquittal and just ten deaths before Lee’s death from a cardiac arrest.
On Jan. 1, California officially became a sanctuary state following a bill signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. According to Fox News, the bill makes it much harder for federal law enforcement to find and deport illegal immigrants anywhere in the state.
On New Year’s Day, someone erected fake but official-looking signs below several “Welcome to California” signs. The point they were making was clear.
[sign]What do you think of Zarate’s sentence? In other news, Twitter released their decision on whether to ban Trump over his “nuclear button” tweet, and it’s causing an uproar.