Donald Trump has condemned a jury’s verdict that a Mexican man is not guilty of murdering a woman on a San Francisco pier.
In a pre-dawn tweet, the president said the cleared man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, “came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent”.
The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
The jury was not told the killer of Kate was a 7 time felon. The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Kate Steinle was shot in the back while walking with her father Jim on the pier in the Californian city in July 2015, in a case that sparked a national debate on immigration.
The shooting came during the presidential primary campaign and was used by then-candidate Mr Trump to push for a wall on the Mexican border.
A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate intentionally shot the 32-year-old but a jury acquitted him of involvement in her death.
Garcia Zarate – who had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when the shooting took place – did not deny firing the gun but said it was an accident.
The case spotlighted San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy, which limits local officials from co-operating with US immigration authorities.
“From day one this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a programme of mass deportation. It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others,” defence lawyer Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict.
“I believe today is a day of vindication for the rest of immigrants.”
Defence lawyers argued that Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Ms Steinle in a freak accident.
Jurors did find him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which public defender Jeff Adachi said carries a potential sentence of 16 months to three years.
“The verdict that came in today was not the one we were hoping for,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the San Francisco prosecutor’s office.
“The jury came back with the verdict they did, and we will respect that decision. This is really about the Steinle family. They showed incredible resolve during this whole process.”
#KateSteinle: The Steinle family speaks about the death of their daughter Kate, shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14 in 2015. Read our exclusive interview: https://t.co/0ZVgHuYNDR pic.twitter.com/pZhNKD4etA— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) December 1, 2017
Jim Steinle told the San Francisco Chronicle the family was saddened and shocked by the verdict.
“There’s no other way you can coin it. Justice was rendered, but it was not served,” he said.
San Francisco deputy district attorney Diana Garcia said during the trial that she did not know why Garcia Zarate fired the weapon, but he created a risk of death by taking the firearm to the pier.
Defence lawyer Matt Gonzalez told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Ms Steinle and that as awful as her death was, “nothing you do is going to fix that”.
The bullet ricocheted on the pier’s concrete walkway and struck Ms Steinle in the back.