Jury unexpectedly finds Pier 14 shooter not guilty

Columnist Kayla Kring

Columnist Kayla Kring

The soothing sound of waves crashing alongside Pier 14 were disrupted on July, 1, 2015, when a .40 caliber handgun rang through the air, piercing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle’s aorta. In the initial moments of pain, she cried out to her father, who was walking alongside her in the moment of tragedy, for help. He and several other people gave Steinle CPR until paramedics could arrive. Unfortunately, after only two hours of hospital care Steinle was pronounced dead. Now, two years later the man who fired the gun and was caught with 24 hours, Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, faces a jury of his peers and was given his sentencing: guilty of possession of a firearm, but not guilty of all counts of murder or manslaughter.

Two years ago, only a select few knew who Kathryn Steinle was, even a year ago not very many knew what had taken place on July 1. But this controversial story began to take shape when it was announced that San Francisco was a sanctuary city. For those who do not know what a sanctuary city is, a general prohibition for city employees to use the city's’ funds and resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE-a branch in government) to enforce federal immigration laws, unless it is required by federal or state law. It was this city ordinance that has caused controversy throughout the nation. Many people blame it on the fact that in the trial People v. Jose Garcia Zarate, the jury let the offender get away with murder.

According to CNN News, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the death was "preventable" and said San Francisco's sanctuary city policies were to blame.” Was the verdict upsetting? Yes. What seemed to be an open and shut case turned into a political controversy about being able to notify officials due to immigration status.

Was Steinle’s death preventable? No one can really know. Plenty of offenders have warrants out for their arrest right now. Whether they are citizens or illegal citizens – they have warrants. Yet, we are not detaining all of those people. Why? Simply because we cannot find them. Had ICE been given notification, there would have only been an issued warrant and a Be On the Look Out (BOLO). Zarate was found wandering the streets of San Francisco. He was under the influence of sleeping pills he found in a dumpster, this man was not robbing banks and capable of being caught. Unfortunately, Zarate did something worse that night than rob a bank. He took the life of a young and bright woman who had her whole life ahead of her.



Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not the only one upset either, President Trump had something to say about the matter too. “A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration,” he said according to SFGate. During Trump’s campaign he strongly discussed immigration and how he was going to attempt to change things surrounding the subject matter. He even brought up Steinle’s case within his speeches. President Trump’s comment strikes intrigue because it is the fault of illegal immigration or the actions of one man. One man ended the life of a young woman who had the world in front of her. One man fired a weapon and the jury of his peers did not convict him of murder or manslaughter. One man took away Kate Steinle’s life. No one else. This is the work of a man who made a choice that took away an “inspiration to all” according to the SF Chronicle and the citizens chosen to convict him failed to do right by Steinle and her family.