The acquittal Thursday of a Mexican immigrant accused of murdering a woman in the western U.S. city of San Francisco has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump, who said the verdict was “disgraceful” and suggested it would cost Democrats in upcoming elections.
The case against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate became a rallying cry for Trump during his run for the presidency. Garcia Zarate, who immigrated illegally to the U.S. and was deported five times, was charged with fatally shooting Kathryn Steinle in July 2015. After several days of deliberation, the jury found him guilty of a less serious charge of felony possession of a weapon.
Trump frequently cited the case on the campaign trail as he called for an end to illegal immigration and for the penalization of sanctuary cities, which protect undocumented immigrants by limiting their cooperation with the federal government to enforce immigration laws.
Trump denounced the verdict by in a series of tweets Thursday night. He accused former President Barack Obama’s administration of weak border protection and suggested the verdict would cost Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the 2018 midterm elections and the general election in 2020.
The case has reignited debate over cooperation between federal immigration authorities and state and local law enforcers who focus on crime prevention, not deportation.
The case also has prompted many legislators to favor restrictions on the allocation of federal funds to sanctuary cities, which include San Francisco.
Garcia Zarate’s attorney Jeff Adachi, who argued the gun was fired by accident, said his client was “extremely relieved.”
Adachi added, “I think he feels tremendous sympathy for Kate Steinle and her family, we do as well, but unfortunately these types of horrible tragic accidents happen every day.”