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Undocumented Immigrant Acquitted In Case Trump Turned Into A Political Issue

Gavel And Scales Of Judtice

The undocumented immigrant who was at the center of a case that President Trump politicized and used in his campaign in arguments against so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ and in support of his border wall has been acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the 2015 shooting death of a San Francisco woman:

An undocumented Mexican immigrant was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges on Thursday in the killing of Kathryn Steinle, whose death while out walking on a San Francisco pier became a touchstone in the national debate over immigration fueled by Donald J. Trump.

The man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, who was also found not guilty of assault with a firearm, was convicted only of being a felon in possession of a firearm after a trial that lasted more than five weeks. His sentence could range from 16 months to three years. Mr. Zarate has already spent more than two years in county jail awaiting trial. A sentencing date had not yet been set.

Ms. Steinle’s death in July 2015 fed into a fierce debate over whether immigrants without legal status — Mr. Garcia Zarate had been deported five times — should be dealt with more aggressively, and over the role local law enforcement should play.

“For anyone that would question the outcome in this case, this jury was deliberating for six days,” Jeff Adachi, the San Francisco public defender, said after the verdict. “There was a tremendous amount of misinformation that was spread about this case from Day 1. You had then-candidate Trump espousing that this was an intentional shooting.”

In a telephone interview, Alex Bastian, an assistant district attorney in the office of the San Francisco district attorney, George Gascón, said the verdict “was not the one we had hoped for.”

“Both the prosecution and defense worked very hard in litigating this case,” he said. “At the end of the day, however, it is up to the jury to determine what they believe is an appropriate verdict. They came back the way they did and we will respect the jury’s decision.”

After the verdict was read, the victim’s father, Jim Steinle, told The San Francisco Chronicle, “We’re just shocked — saddened and shocked.”

“There’s no other way you can coin it,” he said. “Justice was rendered, but it was not served.”

Mr. Trump invoked Ms. Steinle’s killing as he campaigned for president and tried to rally national support for his hard-line immigration agenda, which ultimately helped to catapult him into office.

On Thursday night, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter: “A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.”

In a statement, a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said that after the conclusion of the case, the agency would “work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime hard-liner on immigration enforcement who has threatened to strip federal funds from cities like San Francisco because of sanctuary policies, responded to the verdict in a statement.

“San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” he said. “The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens. I urge the leaders of the nation’s communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers.”

(…)

Ms. Steinle, known as Kate, a 32-year-old medical equipment saleswoman, was walking along Pier 14 in San Francisco when she was struck by a bullet and collapsed into her father’s arms. Mr. Garcia Zarate acknowledged firing the weapon, but said it was an accident.

Evidence was presented in court that the bullet had ricocheted before striking Ms. Steinle.

Mr. Garcia Zarate had been homeless at the time of the shooting and had multiple felony convictions. He had been set free from jail only months before the shooting, in defiance of requests by federal immigration authorities, who had asked that he be held longer so he could be deported again.

The backlash to his release crescendoed when Mr. Trump cited the case during the campaign.

In a major speech on immigration in August 2016, Mr. Trump argued that “countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”

Mr. Trump then named several young people who he said had become victims of policies he considered failures. Among those he named was Ms. Steinle, who Mr. Trump said had been “gunned down in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, by an illegal immigrant, deported five previous times.”

“And they knew he was no good,” Mr. Trump said of the man who had shot her.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

A jury handed a stunning acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges to a homeless undocumented immigrant whose arrest in the killing of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco Bay pier intensified a national debate over sanctuary laws.

In returning its verdict Thursday afternoon on the sixth day of deliberations, the Superior Court jury also pronounced Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of assault with a firearm, finding credence in defense attorneys’ argument that the shot that ricocheted off the concrete ground before piercing Steinle’s heart was an accident, with the gun discharging after the defendant stumbled upon it on the waterfront on July 1, 2015.

Garcia Zarate, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen who was released from County Jail before the killing despite a federal request that he be held for his sixth deportation, was convicted of a single lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. He faces a sentence of 16 months, two years or three years in state prison. Garcia Zarate, who has already served well over two years in jail and gets credit for that time, will be sentenced at a date not yet determined.

The verdict set off a flurry of reactions. Defense attorneys said the case had been overcharged, while U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed the killing on San Francisco’s policy of refusing cooperation with immigration agents. Jim Steinle, who had been strolling on the pier with his daughter when she fell, told The Chronicle he was “saddened and shocked,” adding, “Justice was rendered, but it was not served.”

(…)

Prosecutors told the jury that Garcia Zarate brought the gun to the pier that day to do harm, aimed it toward Steinle and pulled the trigger. Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia spent much of the trial seeking to prove the pistol that killed Steinle couldn’t have fired without a firm pull of the trigger, while establishing that Garcia Zarate tossed the weapon into the bay before fleeing the scene.

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said Thursday that prosecutors had found sufficient evidence for the charges at every step of the case.

“The verdict that came in today was not the one we were hoping for, but I think it’s unequivocal that both sides gave it their all,” Bastian said. “This really is about the Steinle family. They’ve shown incredible resolve during this whole process, and our hearts go out to them.”

Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of nonviolent drug crimes, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands. Lead attorney Matt Gonzalez said his client had never handled a gun and was scared by the noise, prompting him to fling the weapon into the bay, where a diver fished it out a day later.

Earlier Thursday, jurors paused their deliberations to ask if they could test the pistol’s trigger. Judge Samuel K. Feng said no.

During the monthlong trial, jurors watched video from Garcia Zarate’s four-hour police interrogation, in which he offered varying statements about his actions on the pier. At one point he said he had aimed at a “sea animal,” and at another point, he said the gun had been under a rag that lay on the ground near the waterfront, and that it fired when he stepped on it.

Gonzalez said it was clear in the video that Garcia Zarate — who has spent much of his adult life behind bars, was living on the street before the shooting, and has a second-grade education — did not fully understand what the officers were asking him through an officer’s Spanish translation.

Not surprisingly, President Trump didn’t react well to the verdict:

As a preliminary matter, it’s important to note something that most of the online commentary from the right side of the political spectrum seems to be forgetting in the reactions I’ve seen since the verdict was announced last night. Specifically, I’m referring to the fact that the defendant’s immigration status and the fact that he has apparently been caught residing in the United States illegally at least five times is, as a matter of law, irrelevant to the case that was before the jury. Yes, it’s true that Steinle would likely be alive today if Garcia Zarate had not been where he was when he was, but that fact doesn’t matter in a court of law. The only relevant questions are whether or not the prosecution had proven that he was guilty of either murder or manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. From the outcome of the case, which came after a trial that lasted several weeks and jury deliberations that lasted six days, it seems obvious that they didn’t. Given the fact that it’s unlikely that any of the people who are providing this instant reaction on social media followed the trial closely, were most likely not in the courtroom to hear all of the evidence and testimony that the jury did, and did not participate in deliberations, it’s impossible to say that the jury got it wrong in this case. Indeed, given the fact that the jury deliberated for six days is a pretty strong indication that they considered the evidence seriously and that the issues in the case were far more complicated than the simplistic armchair legal analysis would have you believe.

As is likely the case with most people, I will readily admit that I did not follow this case closely while it was going on. Indeed, I wasn’t really aware that it was taking place until the verdict was announced last night. Nonetheless, from the reporting that I have seen in the wake of the verdict, what happened does make some degree of sense. To listen to President Trump and much of the right, one would assume that the shooting occurred when Steinle was walking along the San Francisco waterfront with her father and that, for some reason, Garcia Zarate, who was homeless at the time and just happened to be in the area, used the gun that he had somehow obtained to kill her. In reality, Garcia Zarate had contended from the beginning that he did not intend to fire the gun and that it went off accidentally, ricocheted off the ground, and hit Steinle fatally injuring her.

As Sarah Rumpf notes in an article posted last night, at trial the defense presented evidence that the gun in question had a history of accidental discharge under certain circumstances and the testimony of an expert witness who testified that, based on the ballistics evidence produced by the prosecution, it was clear to him that the fatal bullet had ricocheted off the ground before it hit Steinle. Given that Garcia Zarate was only charged with First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Voluntary Manslaughter, among other charges including the gun possession charge that he was convicted on, the prosecution was basically required to prove that the shooting was intentional. As Rumpf put it, the defense put forward “a plausible explanation for how Garcia Zarate could have fired the gun and killed Steinle by accident. That’s reasonable doubt. Had prosecutors charged him with a lesser crime, such as Involuntary Manslaughter or Negligent Homicide, they might have gotten a conviction. They failed to do so, though, and since double jeopardy attached when the jury was seated and sworn, they are precluded from bringing additional charges.

Patrick “Patterico” Frey, who is a former prosecutor in California, also has a post on the case:

On one hand, you have ordinary carelessness or an accident. This is not criminal. On the other hand, you have recklessness that is so different from usual care that the person is essentially indifferent to human life. That’s what rises to the level of criminal negligence. Put another way: criminal negligence is not just any negligence that results in death. It’s a reasonably high standard, as befits a criminal statute that carries prison time as a consequence for its violation.

Merely picking up a gun and having it accidentally go off is unlikely to be found to be criminally negligent. Waving it around or brandishing it is closer to the type of behavior that this crime targets.

Again, the jury looked at the factors in the Zarate case, including the fact that the weapon involved is prone to accidental discharge, the ricochet off the ground, and the ambiguous nature of the admissions made in Zarate’s interview. Based on those factors and others, they decided that Zarate’s actions were not so egregious to amount to indifference to human life. They may have thought it was an accident, and/or that he was careless but not reckless.

Was that irrational? I didn’t see the trial, but based on the publicly known facts, I can’t say that it necessarily was. This is not like the OJ case, where evidence of murder is overwhelming and clear. This was a tough case.

(…)

There’s plenty to be angry about here. San Francisco’s self-righteous sanctuary city policy clearly cost Kate Steinle her life. The man who handled the gun that shot her had no business being on the streets of San Francisco. He should have been deported, yet again. But thanks to leftist lawmakers, he wasn’t, and a beautiful young woman died as a result.

But that fact alone does not make this verdict wrong. Once you understand the law, it’s easy to see that the verdict may well have been correct.

In any case, Garcia Zarate is not walking free after last night’s verdict. As noted, he was convicted on a felony gun possession charge and will be sentenced on that charge at a future date. Additionally, Federal authorities have said that they intend on taking custody of Garcia Zarate and deporting him after the state court proceedings are concluded. Whether that means he would serve his time in a California prison or whether he will be immediately deported is unclear. None of this will please Trump or the others who hijacked this case for political purposes, of course, but the justice system doesn’t exist to please people it exists to dispense justice as defined by the law. Sometimes, it gets things wrong, but usually it doesn’t and, in any case, as the great English legal philosopher William Blackstone put it, it is better than ten guilty men go free than one innocent man goes to prison. Whether Garcia Zarate falls into the first or second category is something we can each decide for ourselves, but from everything that’s been written above this case, it’s clear to me that the system worked the way it was supposed to. Perhaps next time, prosecutors won’t overcharge defendants like they did in this case.

Update: This post was updated to include the link to and excerpt from the post by Patrick “Patterico” Frey.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    So it turns out to be a sad little tragedy with no broader implications, except that Trump and other Republicans seized on it as another way to demonize and divide.

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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @gVOR08:

    except that Trump and other Republicans seized on it as another way to demonize and divide.

    Worse…he is, once again, undermining the Judicial System of the United States.
    He is saying that his emotions are more true than the factual finding of the court.

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    I suspect that if Zarte had been a) not a minority b) not an illegal immigrant the reaction on the right to his getting acquitted would be entirely different. And the NRA would have been up in arms about “bringing a case to court about an accident which could have happened to any law-abiding American taking advantages of his Constitutional RIGHTS to SELF DEFENSE!”)

    (As Doug says, it doth look like the prosecution side over-reached with the charges. They could have, if they hadn’t been playing to the crowd, gone for Involuntary Manslaughter or whatever CA reserves for the “yeah, I was a dummy fooling around with a gun, oops” homicides. They didn’t.)

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  4. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Trump “No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.”

    What he really means is: that ‘people of our country are so angry about letting the rule of law preside over the justice system’ –

    So how does that square with “Protect and Defend the Constitution”.

    IMO he is promoting mob justice.

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  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Prosecutors dropped the ball on this one, IMO. They overcharged and, in doing so, limited their options.

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  6. Pete S says:

    Is there any chance the prosecutors “overcharged” on purpose? They would have been in the crosshairs from the right for being soft on crime had they filed and won with charges that fit the facts. But now the jury (and I suspect in time) the defense attorney will be the targets.

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  7. CET says:

    1) I would absolutely believe that the prosecutors intentionally over-charged. If they go for involuntary manslaughter, people get pissed at them for ‘letting the murderer off’, if they go for broke and don’t get it, it’s the jury’s fault.

    2) With the obvious caveat that I was not part of the jury, and didn’t see all of the evidence, I am deeply skeptical about the ‘I was handling the gun and it went off’ defense. I can’t double check this on my current network, but I would assume that the SIG had a firing pin block that (absent substantial mechanical damage) requires the trigger to be pulled before the hammer can make contact with the firing pin. It may have had a light trigger (if someone left it loaded and cocked, lying around the waterfront), and it may well have been an unintentional shooting, but contra what most CA residents probably believe, guns do not generally just ‘go off’ from handling them (or dropping them, unless the gun is a cheap POS or has been tampered with). (Yes, I saw the link the SFexaminer page about this, I’d be happy to lay out a counter argument if someone really wants it)

    3) I would be curious who the gun was registered to…Given CA’s gun laws, I’m assuming they are a state that registers all gun purchases and transfers….

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  8. James Pearce says:

    A jury handed a stunning acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges to a homeless undocumented immigrant

    I didn’t realize he was homeless. After my visit to SF last month, I think it’s safe to say that was a bigger factor than his nation of origin.

    I mean, I live in the city. I’ve seen homelessness, often extreme examples of it. But I saw some weird shit when I was out there. Junkies passed out and covered in puke with needles sticking out of their arms sleeping at the BART station. Since the Occupy protests, San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz has become a de facto homeless camp.

    I encountered for the first time a phrase I’ve never seen: “the right to sleep,” as in, the right to sleep on the sidewalk without getting rousted by the authorities. It’s not a horrible concept, but it does seem (to me anyway) like pendulum was swinging the wrong way.

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  9. Paul L. says:

    Predicted this because to progressives believe that Guns are always to blame.
    Free Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.
    Illegal Alien Murderer Jose Ines Garcia Zarate must be set free because they have superior rights to US Citizens according to Trump Vs ACLU et al.
    They could not convict him because it would prove Trump’s statement that Mexico sends Murderers.

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  10. Slugger says:

    I don’t know anything about this case. I did think that OJ killed Nicole and was disappointed in that outcome. I know that the prosecution wins the vast majority of its cases and that human systems are imperfect. Our system of trial by jury, presumption of innocence, etc, work quite well, and there are no better systems out there. Even with the faults in our system, I am very reluctant to see changes such as institution of Sharia for example. A return to trial by combat might be fun. Mr. Trump’s opinion regarding the Central Park wilding incident decrease his credibility for criminal cases.
    I would like to hear critics of this outcome to tell me if they attended the trial or read the transcripts and what modifications to our entire system they prefer.

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  11. James Pearce says:

    @Paul L.:

    Predicted this because to progressives believe that Guns are always to blame.

    Huh, that’s funny. I predicted you’d blame the verdict on progressives.

    We’re both Nostradamus.

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  12. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @CET:

    it’s the jury’s fault.

    When the jury determines that the state of California failed to provide sufficient evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt…. how is that the jury’s fault?

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  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CET:

    I am deeply skeptical about the ‘I was handling the gun and it went off’ defense.

    I find it more likely than the prosecution’s “he was playing Russian roulette” theory of what went happened. And if you’re skeptical, so what? The burden of the proof is on the prosecution. What evidence did they provide (other than the loony russian roulette theory) that it wasn’t an accident?

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  14. JKB says:

    Zarate acquitted of murder. Fascism, “Hilter” hardest hit.

    And what about those far Right Republican prosecutors in the San Francisco district attorney’s office?

    In any case, the outcome of the trial doesn’t alter the political aspects of this case. He was still at large because San Francisco refused an immigration hold on him. And remember, San Francisco took pains to “rescue” Zarate from Arizona then dropped the very old charges and released him.

    San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, honors immigration holds only if the person has a violent record or if a judge had vetted the hold or approved a warrant. In this case, ICE did not seek a court order, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said.

    Under California’s 2014 Trust Act, Lopez-Sanchez could have been held for immigration based on his past felonies.

    [interesting the LA Times was using a different name for this guy back in 2015]

    I read he could get 16-36 months for what he was convicted on but has been in custody for 24 months awaiting trial. So he may be waltzing out the door for the new year. I wonder if San Francisco will play into Trump’s hands and try to release him despite ICE having a hold and seeking to deport him? That would be excellent.

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  15. al-Ameda says:

    I live out here and work about a half mile from the site of the crime.

    Frankly, if the prosecution had gone for manslaughter instead of murder with intent, this would have been an easy conviction.The DA’s office miscalculated.

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  16. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @CET:

    I would be curious who the gun was registered to…Given CA’s gun laws, I’m assuming they are a state that registers all gun purchases and transfers

    ….

    The gun is described as the duty weapon of a Bureau of Land Management officer. I don’t know about CA gun registration laws as to how service weapons are registered to law enforcement officers.
    Here is reporting

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  17. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    He was still at large because San Francisco refused an immigration hold on him.

    I’m actually okay with local authorities not doing the jobs of federal authorities, and if you think about it….you probably are too.

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  18. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Flynn turned himself in, this am, on a very reduced charge. Clearly he has flipped on Cheeto-Dick.
    This is going to get good.
    As Josh Marshall said; this explains why Mangolini seems to be going off his rocker. Certainly not the way an innocent man would be acting.

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  19. inhumans99 says:

    The sad thing is that I absolutely believe that he should do some serious prison time (he did kill an innocent women, that is not being disputed…the gun he was holding fired the bullet that killed her), but the prosecutors let the politicians in D.C. screw up a winnable case…as Doug has already pointed out he most likely would have been found guilty of a lesser charge.

    The prosecutors let the heat from D.C. influence their decision to look tough and try to throw the book at him, but instead they end up with a situation where the guy may end up doing some time for the gun charge and ultimately be deported (good riddance) but these results go unnoticed by President Trump and his accolytes….so sad. President Trump gets what he wanted…an illegal immigrant deported and charged with a crime (a lesser crime, but still a crime), but the prosecutors still end up looking like chumps in President Trump’s eyes…that has to be frustrating as heck (I can imagine a lot of prosecutors are having a face palm reaction to how their brethren handled the case).

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: I note the absence of citations and quotation marks.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Via Eschaton there’s a report that Flynn has agreed to testify that Trump directed him to contact the Russians

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  22. CSK says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Just breaking news is that he’s going to rat out Donnie.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    This really is a tragedy of justice. If you are playing with a gun, and it goes off and kills someone, that should be manslaughter. Guns are a right, but they are also a responsibility.

    And, I blame the prosecutors for this — go for murder, sure, but also prepare the jury to ensure you get at least a manslaughter conviction.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I would not be surprised if Trump pardoned him — It would create a constitutional crisis (use of the pardon power to obstruct justice… probably legal, but impeachment is a political process), but it fits with the “I’m the president, I can do anything” theory of governing.

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  25. CET says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Sorry – Comments don’t convey tone well. I meant that as ‘fault’, as in ‘people will blame the Jury for the innocent verdict, not the prosecutor for fumbling an otherwise winnable case.’

    A BLM duty weapon, lying around wrapped in an old shirt? I wouldn’t mind seeing an investigation of WTF an officer’s weapon was doing unattended on the waterfront, loaded, cocked, and wrapped in a shirt. It seems like either the officer failed to report a lost weapon, or this homeless guy stumbled on something a little sketchy….

    @StormyDragon:

    Legally, my opinion doesn’t matter in the least. The jury acquitted him. I just have a deep loathing for the ‘the gun just went off’ defense. My strong suspicion is that it’s usually a cover for a more serious f*ck up, and only works because most juries don’t understand guns….

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  26. TM01 says:

    the defendant’s immigration status and the fact that he has apparently been caught residing in the United States illegally at least five times is, as a matter of law, irrelevant to the case that was before the jury.

    Hell, I’m still trying to get someone to tell me what Collusion Law Trump supposedly broke WRT Russia.

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  27. Dave Schuler says:

    It sounds to me as though the law was followed in this verdict. An illustration that justice and the law are two different things.

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  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CET:

    I agree. And if the prosecution had been arguing a case that Zarate was reckless and thus guilty of involuntary manslaughter, I would buy that.

    But the prosecutor instead chose to argue a case on some loony theory about Zarate playing Russian roulette, and the jury not surprisingly didn’t think there was enough evidence to support that.

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  29. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:

    I note the absence of citations and quotation marks.

    I am using the Roy Moore is a [ convicted] child molester standard embraced by the Democrats.

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  30. gVOR08 says:

    @CET:

    I just have a deep loathing for the ‘the gun just went off’ defense.

    If you read Gun Fail you’ll see that the NRA is wrong, Guns Do Kill People. They seem to be constantly going off by themselves, or jumping to the floor to go off by themselves. Especially unloaded guns being “cleaned”. Yes, it generally covers something stupid, but nonetheless unintentional. And almost no one is prosecuted. Well, no one white.

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  31. Hal_10000 says:

    I am skeptical that the gun just went off. But given the evidence presented to the jury, there does seem a reasonable doubt. And given that she was killed on a ricochet, arguing for murder seems a huge stretch.

    As I said in a previous post, however, I understand the anger over this issue. We can site statistics on immigrants’ being less prone to crime all day but that’s not going to matter when someone was killed because of the actions of a man who shouldn’t have been in the country in the first place. People are going to be angry. Thankfully, however, we do not decide court cases based on public outrage.

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  32. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: They went for “voluntary manslaughter” as opposed to “involuntary manslaughter.” Which, considering what the guy admitted to doing, meant they threw out a case-where-the-guy-admitted-to-all-the-elements-of-the-action just on the off chance they could get the more serious charge to stick.

    Talk about mush-for-brains.

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  33. Monala says:

    @CET: I’m one of those people who has never fired a gun except for a rifle at a sports show once. So I have a question borne of my ignorance: if dozens of toddlers*, who don’t have a whole lot of strength or fine motor skills, accidentally fire guns and injure or kill people each year, doesn’t that mean that guns can go off fairly easily? And if not, how do you explain the toddler issue?

    * 43 toddlers killed or injured themselves or others with firearms in 2015, according to Wonkblog, a claim rated true by Snopes.
    https://www.snopes.com/toddlers-killed-americans-terrorists/

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  34. Tyrell says:

    “Sad. Shocking. A miscarriage” just a few of many opinions of this tragic verdict.
    What about the Steinle family? Who speaks for them? What about their feelings and opinions? Did the judge allow them to address the jury?
    This tragedy is a result of the faulty immigration policies and “sanctuary city” fiasco. People are shocked and in an uproar over this miscarriage of justice. Some are calling for a boycott of San Francisco.I say what is needed is an overhaul of the immigration laws and tighter borders. And an end to these ‘sanctuary city” laws that endanger law abiding citizens everywhere. Someone needs to be held accountable. There should be a complete, independent investigation.
    I don’t buy the story that the gun was dropped and went off. Ridiculous. This man was a criminal: he had a record. He came in illegally several times. He had a gun and was stalking victims. That is enough for a conviction.
    How about the immigrants who go through the system, come in legally, and obey the laws?
    This criminal will jump back into this country and resume his roaming the streets looking for innocent victims. This story will be repeated. It has already been repeated.

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  35. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Tyrell:

    How about… What about… but…. but…

    I’ve got a novel idea for you: Read some of the press coverage.

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  36. Matt says:

    @grumpy realist: Generally they overcharge so they can get a plea deal. Not sure if that’s what was going on.

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  37. CET says:

    @Monala:
    Fair question.

    There are handguns with very light trigger pulls – light enough a small child could easily pull them, or that they can be pulled if the user isn’t being careful when holstering the weapon (or is using a POS holster that doesn’t block access to the trigger). Law enforcement agencies and competitive shooters like them because they are easier/require less practice to shoot well. I don’t think they are safe to carry, and suspect that their use by law enforcement contributes to the frequency of unnecessary ‘officer involved shootings’ (but that’s a rant for a different time). Hair trigger aside, for most handguns, it is mechanically impossible for the gun to fire unless the trigger is pulled.

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  38. Tyrell says:

    @CET: The theory or idea that this gun was dropped and accidentally went off, hitting Steinle and resulting in death is preposterous. It would be more believable that he was shaking the gun at her while pointing and it went off.
    This is much like the “magic bullet” idea of the JFK assassination. Virtually impossible.
    Be that as it may, the only good that can come out of this debacle is some changes in immigration policy and eliminate this ridiculous “sanctuary city” policy.
    Once this guy came in the second time, they should have locked him up and lost the key. Instead he went back and got on the revolving door.
    See “What LA residents really think of LA as sanctuary city” video

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  39. the Q says:

    So what happens if this guy sneaks back into the U.S. again and gets arrested for pubic intoxication?

    According to S.F. sanctuary policies he would be released with a misdemeanor citation and ICE would not be called in to deport.

    Of course in real life, with the bad PR surrounding his acquittal, he would be deported, but what about all those illegals similar to this maggot who ARE released everyday by these exact same authorities. And we know that many illegals released under this sanctuary nonsense do go on to commit crimes.

    I will bet my horse ranch in Montana that if that was your daughter shot through the head and dying in your arms with her last breath imploring you to “help me daddy” NONE of you would be so forgiving of this sanctuary stupidity, knowing in your heart that this tragedy could have easily been avoided except for misguided policies.

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