SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco cannot be held liable for a slaying by a man who was in the country illegally and had been released by sheriff’s officials despite a request by immigration officials to keep him behind bars, a federal judge said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero dismissed wrongful death claims filed by the family of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle against the city and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. The judge, however, allowed a negligence claim against the federal government to move forward.

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

The man charged with murder in the July 2015 slaying, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was a repeat drug offender who was transferred to the city jail to face a marijuana sales charge after he completed a federal prison sentence for illegally reentering the country. The district attorney dropped charges, and the sheriff’s department released Lopez-Sanchez three months before Steinle’s death, ignoring a request by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep him behind bars.

San Francisco’s so-called “sanctuary policy” bars city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials in deportation efforts.

Mirkarimi cited the law in a 2015 memo to deputies that prohibited them from providing certain information to federal immigration authorities, including the date an inmate is released, according to Spero’s ruling. In their lawsuit, Steinle’s family cited a statement by immigration authorities that Lopez-Sanchez would have been deported and Steinle’s death prevented if sheriff’s officials had notified them about his pending release.

Spero said in his ruling on Friday that neither the state nor federal law cited in the lawsuit prevents the sheriff from restricting his deputies’ communications with immigration officials about an inmate’s release date.

Frank Pitre, an attorney for the Steinle family, said he was evaluating the best course forward.

Spero allowed a claim in the lawsuit alleging that a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger negligently left the gun used in Steinle’s slaying loaded inside a vehicle in San Francisco, and it was stolen.

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

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Comments (108)
  1. Lynn Wood says:

    Why is it not illegal for a county, or a city, to refuse to cooperate with a federal request regarding the hold on a person wanted for a federal violation of law?

    1. Its’ illegal because the OBAMA Administrations and the Democrat Party want America swamped with third world illegals who will vote for Democrats. Plain and simple. Democrats including Obama HATE patriotic Americas (of all colors and religions) whom they see as bitter clingers hanging on to their guns,their God, their religion (and their country!) Democrats need a permanent underclass of illiterate, murderous thugs as their base. If San Francisco wasn’t a “sanctuary city” Kate Steinly, a normal, law abiding AMERICAN CITIZEN would be alive and that illegal alien would be in jail.

    2. Brian Taylor says:

      Consider this oddity: If you have a person in your home who is wanted for a violation of federal law and assist that person in evading the feds, you can and likely will be charged with a federal crime. Incidentally, this applies also to immigration law. Federal law SPECIFICALLLY provides that aiding an illegal alien to ENTER OR REMAIN in the country is a federal crime. I think we need to start arresting some city and county officials.

      1. Bam ! Laws are only for the little guy

  2. Jeff Knight says:

    I hope this goes all they way to the Supreme Court. We can’t pick and choose what laws we want to enforce.

  3. Greg Johnson says:

    That’s nice. But the perp isn’t an immigrant legally. He is an ILLEGAL ALIEN. As in (warning: trigger words!): In violation of federal law.

    And the City is an accessory to his illegal status.

  4. Cain Harris says:

    cut off San Francisco’s Federal Funds and this UnAmerican BS
    will stop! TRUMP!

  5. Glenn Cohen says:

    Folks, what started out as a compassionate move, now costs American taxpayers over one trillion dollars per year. This covers housing, food, education, medication, incarceration, interdiction, tag and release and court expenses. It has destroyed communties and you can’t say a damn thing about it unless you want to be accused of xenophobia or racism…

  6. The Steinle family absolutely should be able to sue the city of San Francisco as well as suing, as individuals, the mayor and members of the city council. Their daughter was murdered by a man who should never have been in this country, who had broken in illegally six different times, and who had committed felonies in several states before committing murder in California. The people who voted to make San Francisco a sanctuary city have blood on their hands and are complicit in her death.

  7. Ronald Ceres says:

    Better check the water in Frisco because it appears that the local government has take leave of their senses and taken the judiciary with them.

  8. Alan Liss says:

    The city and every Sanctuary City has blood on its hands and as Maximus in Gladiator warns: There will be “vengeance in this life or the next”.

  9. if she wins, I hope the federal gov withholds the amount they have to pay from the city of SF cause its their fault he was still in the county.

  10. Clegg Jensen says:

    The power of Congress “to exclude aliens from the United States and to prescribe the terms and conditions on which they come in” is absolute, being an attribute of the United States As a sovereign nation, through the action of the legislative department, can exclude aliens from its territory is a proposition which we do not think open to controversy. Jurisdiction over its own territory to that extent is an incident of every independent nation. It is a part of its independence. If it could not exclude aliens, it would be to that extent subject to the control of another power. *** The United States, in their relation to foreign countries and their subjects or citizens are one nation, invested with powers which belong to independent nations, the exercise of which can be invoked for the maintenance of its absolute independence and security throughout its entire territory. — SCOTUS 1889
    >>>>>“If Congress can forbid the entry ***, it can punish those who cooperate in their fraudulent entry.” — SCOTUS 1909<<<<<

  11. Oh yes, a democrat run, sanctuary hell hole where criminals here illegally at the invitation of the city government can freely murder citizens..

  12. That jewdge will pay for his crimes against the rightful people and this country. Kek will have his revenge.

    1. So what do Jews have to do with the fact San Francisco is a sanctuary city? Or did you just want to show us you hate Jews and are therefore not to be taken seriously?

  13. Pete Dosado says:

    Build the wall and deport illegals!

  14. CO Jones says:

    The only thing that matters in SF is that any and all sexual acts by LGBT-LSMFT* loons are lauded. Immigration laws, murder, etc. are treated like piffle by poofters who demand that the bizarre be treated as normal…and inessentials made central.


    Tony Bennett should sing, “I left my mind in San Francisco.” It’s an area where folks like Zuckerberg/Gates force “compassion” on others per illegals while barricading themselves behind walls in mansions…safe from the hoi-polloi they foist on American Citizens.

  15. Brian Taylor says:

    I believe this will be overturned and SF will be reinstated in the lawsuit before it’s all over.

  16. The judge is a political hack and a coward and should be disbarred. San Francisco is in violation of Federal law and should be held accountable. Would a citizen violating Fed Law be held accountable?

  17. JUDGE: No suing the entities that write my paychecks. Appeal this idiot.

  18. poetopoet says:

    Really judge, judge they self, her death could not and would not happen; unless the City of SanFarnsico authorized the man’s release in writing, in their Sanctuary City status stand.

  19. poetopoet says:

    This baby, is going to turn some heads, in a noose.

  20. 1) This decision can be appealed, so let a highre court decide. 2) SF will be punished anyway, in sveeral ways, by the people who give them federal aid. That can be stopped. Once the people of SF have to pay with their own money, they may change onxce the working people of ASF rise up.

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