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Parents of woman killed in San Francisco sues city, feds


    In this file photo, Brad Steinle, left, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the brother, mother and father of Kate Steinle who was shot to death on a pier, listen to their attorneys speak during a news conference on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco.


    This undated photo provided by the San Francisco Police Department shows Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez.

SAN FRANCISCO » The parents of a woman killed on a San Francisco pier have sued the city and two federal agencies, accusing them of contributing to her death because the man charged in the slaying was in the country illegally.

Kate Steinle’s parents filed the wrongful death lawsuit today, accusing the Sheriff’s Department of failing to notify federal immigration officials that it was releasing Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez from jail.

They also are suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. A BLM ranger reported that a gun was stolen from his car while it was parked in downtown San Francisco.

Lopez-Sanchez says he found the gun and it fired when he picked it up, striking Steinle, 32, in the back. He has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge.

Steinle’s shooting death in July thrust San Francisco into the national debate over immigration.

Lopez-Sanchez was transferred to the city jail to face a marijuana sales charge after he completed a nearly four-year federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the country in March. The district attorney dropped charges and the sheriff’s department released Lopez-Sanchez, ignoring an ICE request to keep him behind bars.

San Francisco’s so-called “sanctuary policy,” which was tweaked and re-affirmed last week, bars city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials in deportation efforts. The law dates to 1989.

The sheriff at the time cited the law in defending the release of Lopez-Sanchez, a repeat drug offender and habitual border crosser.

Advocates of sanctuary protections say a clear division between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities is needed to foster trust.

Calling the entire episode a “tragic series of events,” the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Steinle’s parents allege that the sheriff had an obligation to alert immigration officials that Lopez-Sanchez was being released, despite the city’s sanctuary policy. The lawsuit also alleges that ICE knew Lopez-Sanchez was in the San Francisco jail and that agents should have taken him into their custody regardless of the sheriff’s actions.

Finally, the lawsuit alleges that the BLM agent was negligent for leaving a service handgun in a backpack in his government-issued car. A burglar broke a window and stole the backpack two weeks before Steinle was shot.

Lopez-Sanchez remains jailed in the murder case.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department referred calls to the city attorney’s office.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney, said the city’s “heart goes out to the Steinle family” but that the sheriff can’t be “held liable for the conduct of a criminal.”

Officials with BLM and ICE didn’t respond to inquiries for comment Friday.

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  • One of the primary functions of government is to promote the peace and safety of its citizenry. Liberals and their misguided sanctuary policy potentially put citizens at risk for their own safety.

      • Wondering how, exactly, your comment relates to immigration policy or sanctuary cities.

        And by the way, the current military cuts originated with the Obama administration and Obama staffer, Jack Lew’s proposal during the 2011 budget negotiations. At the time we were experiencing trillion dollar deficits and the GOP forced Obama into negotiation to bring spending down. Yes, the GOP surprised Obama by accepting those cuts to the military in order to do so, but the idea originated with Obama.

        All beside the point since anyone with ability to read would know that the democrats are more inclined to cut defense spending than the republicans.

      • Blah, blah, blah! It’s all Bush’s fault! Wah, wah, wah! You Liberal Lemmings, like our incompetent “president” NEVER accept reponsibility for his bumbling naïveté.

  • The real tragedy would occur if the attorney for Lopez-Sanchez manages to convince a judge or jury that a handgun mysteriously fired itself upon being picked up. (A self-firing handgun was only in the realm of science fiction, or so I thought.) If this defense proves successful and the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kate Steinle’s parents comes to naught, then it could very well happen that NO ONE will be held responsible for their daughter’s death. It will then have been an act of God.

    • The parents can probably expect a judgment against Mr. Lopez-Sanchez, but not against BLM or the Sheriff. The case against the Sheriff and BLM will not make it to trial, and neither will settle the case or admit wrongdoing.

      • Correct. The standard of care for the “reasonable agent” is the criteria in which courts look at……if it was not exceedingly derelict, BLM will not be on the docket.

      • There should be a huge judgment against the City and the Sheriff’s department. If they are going to give sanctuary to a criminal, they need to be held responsible for his actions.

        The BLM, well, maybe they will get away this time. However, law enforcement departments probably need to implement some kind of policy about how to keep their firearms in a secure place. Locked trigger guards and maybe even locked reinforced steel glove compartments are a couple of simple options.

        • If the “discretion” allowable within San Francisco’s sanctuary policy results in a criminal being released who subsequently causes injury, then the individual applying the discretion as well as the policy in general ought to be held liable for the albeit unanticipated yet reasonably probable consequences. Hopefully the plaintiffs have the resources to move this action beyond San Francisco’s consideration.

  • The city of San Francisco is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the liberal mind. Crazy politics and lack of accountability by public officials. I wouldn’t be surprised if the term “racism” rears its ugly head as a defense tactic for the illegal alien murderer. Liberals love to blame the victim.

  • A municipality’s self-proclaimed “sanctuary policy” does not trump federal laws regarding immigration. However, Obama’s administration has no intention of challenging the several municipalities “sanctuary policies” aimed at shielding illegal immigrants. This is what you get. All you have to do is google crimes committed by illegal immigrants and you get a huge and horrendous list of wrongs illegals have done to US citizens. Until the federal laws on immigration are repealed those laws should be enforced. A country that fails to secure its borders will soon cease to be a country.

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