Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was sentenced Friday to time already served for unlawful possession of a firearm after a jury’s decision in November to reject murder charges against the Mexican national for firing a bullet that killed Kate Steinle as she strolled down a San Francisco pier in 2015, the Washington Post reports. The acquittal provoked a fresh flurry of protest, including from President Trump, who had used Steinle on the campaign trail to make the case for a border wall, an end to “sanctuary cities” and stricter immigration policy. Steinle’s parents want to see the city and county of San Francisco and its former sheriff pay for the fatal shooting, saying that their policies allowed Garcia Zarate, who already had been deported five times, to keep walking the streets of San Francisco. They also want to see the federal government held responsible for the handgun that was used, after it was stolen from an federal agent’s car.
With the end of Garcia Zarate’s latest trial, Steinle attorneys can now access the files they need to take their wrongful death lawsuit to trial. The wrongful death cases could enlarge the debate about what failed Steinle: local immigration policies or federal mismanagement of guns? Trump, who launched his presidential campaign two weeks before Steinle’s killing with a speech decrying Mexican immigrants as criminals and calling for a border wall, quickly fixated on the death of “beautiful Kate.” He said the case is proof that “sanctuary city” policies, which restrict local officials from assisting in enforcement of immigration laws, are dangerous and must be stopped. The jury in San Francisco was tasked with deciding whether Garcia Zarate meant to shoot Steinle. His prior criminal record on drug charges and for reentering the country illegally were never part of the discussion.