Po­lice: Bul­let ric­o­cheted, killed woman in San Fran­cisco

Imperial Valley Press - - NEWS -

SAN FRAN­CISCO (AP) — The bul­let that killed a San Fran­cisco woman whose death touched off na­tional de­bate about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion ric­o­cheted off the ground about 100 yards away be­fore hit­ting her in the back, a re­tired po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor tes­ti­fied Mon­day.

For­mer Of­fi­cer John Evans said he and other in­ves­ti­ga­tors work­ing Zarate on the

case found a “strike mark” on the pier’s con­crete sur­face four days af­ter the shoot­ing of Kate Steinle by a Mex­i­can na­tional who had been de­ported five times.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors had over­looked the mark on the night the 32-year-old Steinle was killed, said Evans, who later re­tired from the de­part­ment.

Au­thor­i­ties re­turned to the pop­u­lar pier four days later, af­ter the bul­let was found to be par­tially flat­tened, in­di­cat­ing it had ric­o­cheted, he said.

The tes­ti­mony was sig­nif­i­cant be­cause lawyers for de­fen­dant Jose Ines Gar­cia Zarate ar­gue the ric­o­chet shows the shoot­ing was ac­ci­den­tal.

Pros­e­cu­tors have charged Gar­cia Zarate with mur­der, al­leg­ing he meant to point and shoot the gun at pedes­tri­ans on the pier on July 1, 2015.

The shoot­ing sparked a po­lit­i­cal furor dur­ing last year’s pres­i­den­tial race, with then-can­di­date Don­ald Trump cit­ing the killing as a rea­son to toughen U.S. im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

Gar­cia Zarate had been re­leased from the San Fran­cisco jail about three months be­fore the shoot­ing, de­spite a re­quest by fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties to de­tain him for fur­ther de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

San Fran­cisco is a sanc­tu­ary city, with lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials barred from co­op­er­at­ing with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. Pres­i­dent Trump has threat­ened to with­hold fed­eral fund­ing to cities with sim­i­lar im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies.

Gar­cia Zarate was ar­rested shortly af­ter Steinle died in the arms of her fa­ther, who has at­tended nearly ev­ery day of the trial with his wife and son.

Gar­cia Zarate said he found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt on the pier and it ac­ci­den­tally fired when he picked it up.

A Bureau of Land Man­age­ment ranger re­ported the semi­au­to­matic hand­gun had been stolen from his SUV sev­eral days be­fore the shoot­ing. A po­lice diver found it in San Fran­cisco Bay the day af­ter the shoot­ing.

Evans said it ap­peared the bul­let struck the ground about 15 feet from where Gar­cia Zarate was sit­ting and then trav­eled the length of a foot­ball field be­fore strik­ing Steinle.

This July 17, 2015, file photo shows flow­ers and a por­trait of Kate Steinle dis­played at a memo­rial site on Pier 14 in San Fran­cisco. PAUL CHINN /SAN FRAN­CISCO CHRON­I­CLE VIA AP

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