Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump lashed out at a not guilty ruling Thursday night in a murder trial he had made one of the centerpiece arguments against undocumented immigration in the country.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, was found not guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter. He was convicted on a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Garcia Zarate admitted to shooting Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015, but said he had picked up the gun, wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench, and it accidentally went off. The prosecution argued he carelessly handled the weapon, which the Bureau of Land Management previously said was stolen from an agent’s vehicle.
Trump repeatedly referred to the shooting on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016 as an argument for building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and becoming tougher on illegal immigration. Garcia Zarate had been deported to his native Mexico previously multiple times and had just gotten out of jail after a drug charge was dismissed. San Francisco is a sanctuary city and does not notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when an undocumented immigrant is detained.
The president took to Twitter shortly after the verdict to condemn the ruling.
He followed that up eight hours later with two more tweets calling the jury decision a “complete travesty of justice” and blaming policy of his predecessor Barack Obama, as well as Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Trump’s condemnation of the shooting goes back to the beginning of his campaign.
“This man, or this animal, that shot that wonderful, that beautiful woman in San Francisco, this guy was pushed back by Mexico,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview in July 2015, just a month after bringing up Mexican undocumented immigrants in his candidacy announcement. “Mexico pushes back people across the border that are criminals, that are drug dealers.”
Criticism came from both sides of the aisle, however. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., whose district includes parts of the Bay Area, also condemned the ruling.
Steinle’s family told The San Francisco Chronicle that they were “saddened and shocked” by the verdict.
“There’s no other way you can coin it,” said Steinle’s father, James Steinle. “Justice was rendered, but it was not served.”
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