Steinle family sues San Francisco, federal authorities, former sheriff

Pleasanton native Kate Steinle fatally shot last July

The family of Kate Steinle, a Pleasanton native who was shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14 last July, today filed a federal lawsuit against city and federal officials alleging that a series of policy failures and negligent acts led to her death.

The lawsuit, which names the city of San Francisco, former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, alleges that officials allowed Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with a history of drug offenses, to go free and obtain the gun that killed her.

"The Steinle Family hopes that their actions today will serve to highlight the lax enforcement of gun safety regulations among the law enforcement agencies involved and bureaucratic confusion so that this will not happen to others," Frank Pitre, the lawyer representing the Steinle family, said in a statement today.

Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native who had recently moved to San Francisco, was shot on July 1 while walking with family members on Pier 14. Police arrested Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported five times and had seven prior felony convictions, within an hour of the shooting.

The shooting set off a national furor over San Francisco's Sanctuary City policies after it was revealed that the Sheriff's Department had released Lopez-Sanchez without notifying immigration officials.

Mirkarimi in March of 2015 had sent out a memo forbidding all communications with immigration officials, in a move that today's lawsuit alleges exceeded his authority and city policies.

San Francisco's Sanctuary City and Due Process for All policies, intended to encourage communication between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, forbid the use of city and county resources for assisting federal immigration authorities but allow for some communication with them under limited circumstances.

Inspired in part by the uproar over Steinle's death, the Board of Supervisors voted this week to update that policy with clarifications about when such communications are allowed.

The lawsuit also faults federal immigration officials for failing to take a more active role in detaining Lopez-Sanchez, despite knowing of San Francisco's policy.

The Bureau of Land Management is named because the gun used in the shooting was stolen from the car of a BLM agent who had left it unsecured in a backpack.

That incident and other recent law enforcement gun thefts from vehicles inspired Supervisor David Campos to introduce legislation, approved in February, requiring all guns stored in cars to be secured in lockboxes.

Lopez-Sanchez has been charged with murder in Steinle's death, but defense attorneys have indicated they are likely to argue the shooting was the result of an accidental ricochet.

-Bay City News Service reporter Sara Gaiser

— Bay City News Service

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25 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton family
a resident of Downtown
on May 30, 2016 at 11:23 am

Good for the Steinle Family! Hope you make a difference so no other family has to go through this.
You deserve everything you get. My sympathy to your family.

20 people like this
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on May 30, 2016 at 11:53 am

Shame on Swalwell for supporting Sanctuary Cities.

17 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 30, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Shame on Swalwell for voting no on Kate's Law.

3 people like this
Posted by James W.
a resident of California Somerset
on Jun 2, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Swalwell should resign for having supported, and continuing to support the illegal "Sanctuary Cities" like S.F. His continuing support for allowing men to use women's bathrooms is equally risky for innocent women. Toss the bum out.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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