SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The tearful family of the woman shot dead while walking along a San Francisco pier appeared on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to announced the filing of wrongful death claims against the sheriff and federal agencies.
The family of Kate Steinle maintains that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Land Management all played a role in the death of their daughter.
Steinle was walking with her father along Pier 14 on July 1 when an undocumented immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez allegedly shot her with a gun stolen from a BLM ranger.
At the time it was stolen, the gun had been placed in a backpack that was in plain view inside the ranger’s vehicle in violation of BLM regulations on securing firearms, according to an attorney for the Steinle family.
Lopez-Sanchez, a multiple felon who had been previously deported five times, had been released from jail in April after Sheriff Mirkarimi declined an ICE request to turn him over, citing the city’s sanctuary city policy.
“Both statistics and this gentleman’s history would tell you that what happened out on Pier 14 was not only forseeable, it was predictable,” said attorney Frank Pitre.
The killing prompted a national debate on sanctuary city policies, which limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.
“If you think this can’t happen to you, think again,” said father Jim Steinle. “I’m walking down the pier, arm-in-arm with my daughter … she stops, takes a selfie, she turns around, and is shot. As she fell said, ‘Help me, dad.’ That’s my bedtime story every night. And if you want it to be your bedtime story every night, then do nothing. But if you feel this was wrong – and it is- be active and let the people in this city, and the state and the country know this … this … this can’t stand.
Both the Steinle family attorneys and family members said they were prompted to act after witnessing weeks of finger-pointing over the killing and no change in the sanctuary city policies.
“We’re here to make sure that a change is made so no one has to endure the pain my mom and dad and I go through on a daily basis,” said brother Brad Steinle. “Because the system failed our sister. And at this point, no one has taken responsibility, accountability, and nothing has changed.”
The claims filed by the Steinle family are in advance of expected lawsuits.
A statement from the Sheriff’s office said that while Sheriff Mirkarimi could not comment on potential litigation, he continues to extend his deepest sympathy to the Steinle family for their loss.
ICE issued a statement saying its director recently met with members of the Steinle family to express the agency’s profound sympathy for their loss.
A BLM statement said the bureau takes seriously the loss of any human life and it was continuing to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.