It's Not Over for Man Cleared of Murder on SF Pier

Matt Gonzalez and press

Man Acquitted In Kate Steinle Killing Faces Federal Gun And Immigration Charges

Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on the pier in July 2015, killing Steinle as she walked with her father.

Federal authorities have charged a Mexican man with new immigration and gun violations less than a week after a San Francisco jury acquitted him of murder for the shooting death of Kate Steinle.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted him on Tuesday on one count each of felon in possession of a firearm and of "being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States" in possession of a gun and ammunition, according to the indictment.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon was critical on Tuesday of the federal charges - saying the Trump administration has turned the Zarate case into a "political football".

The day after the trial, federal authorities said they would seek to gain custody of Garcia Zarate and eventually deport him. Garcia Zarate is to be sentenced in state court December 14. Defense attorneys argued that Garcia Zarate found the handgun and that it went off accidentally.

Garcia Zarate faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors were allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions. Garcia Zarate claimed the shooting was accidental.

Zarate faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail for each charge. The case has sparked national outrage over sanctuary cities, and the need for stricter laws on illegal immigration.

San Francisco prohibits city law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status or detaining people exclusively on the basis of civil immigration detainers after they are eligible for release.

San Francisco is a so-called sanctuary city and local officials are limited in the cooperation they can give with federal deportation efforts.

Sanctuary City policies, which have been in place in San Francisco in some form since the 1980s and are used by several hundred other cities and counties nationwide, are meant to promote public safety by encouraging immigrants to report crimes and cooperate with police.

The verdict created a furor nationally, particularly among those on the right pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, and prompted a #boycottSF campaign online, as well as several angry tweets from President Donald Trump.

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