Fatal bullet ricocheted, ex-investigator testifies
SAN FRANCISCO — A bullet that killed a San Francisco woman in 2015 ricocheted off the ground about 100 feet away before hitting her in the back, a retired police investigator testified Monday.
Former officer John Evans said he and other investigators working 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 — a case that touched off a national debate about illegal immigration.
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.
Lawyers for defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate say the ricochet shows the shooting was accidental.
Prosecutors have charged Garcia Zarate with murder, alleging he intended to shoot at pedestrians on the pier on July 1, 2015.
Defense lawyer Matt Gonzalez questioned Evans over whether the bullet had traveled straight, which would support the prosecution’s contention that Garcia Zarate aimed the gun before firing.
Evans conceded on cross-examination that he didn’t know exactly where Garcia Zarate was sitting when the gun fired, nor did he know the specific spot where Steinle was standing when she was struck.
Prosecutors and Gonzalez said the case boils down to whether Garcia Zarate pointed and fired the gun intentionally or whether the weapon accidentally discharged.
The shooting sparked a political furor during the 2016 presidential race. 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.