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Family files wrongful-death suit against feds, San Francisco

The family of Kate Steinle, whose shooting death last year on Pier 14 at the hands of an illegal immigrant sparked a national uproar over immigration policy, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, the city of San Francisco and its controversial former sheriff that alleges their negligence led to the shooting.

The wrongful-death suit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks unspecified damages for Steinle’s death, naming the city and county of San Francisco and former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi as defendants. The suit alleges the city’s sanctuary policy allowed shooter Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant, to go free without notifying immigration authorities seeking to keep him in custody.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is named because the gun used to kill Steinle was reportedly stolen from the unsecured car of a ranger with the agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is named for its purported failure to effectively deport Lopez-Sanchez and keep him from illegally entering the country five times. Lopez-Sanchez is also a named defendant.

Steinle, who had lived in Pleasanton was walking on Pier 14 when she was shot in the back July 1. As she collapsed into her father’s arms, Jim Steinle said, her dying words were: “Help me, Daddy.”

Lopez-Sanchez fired one shot from a gun his public defenders say he found wrapped in a T-shirt on the pier. The bullet ricocheted off the pier deck, hitting Steinle in the back as she walked with her father. Prosecutors contend that Lopez-Sanchez meant to kill Steinle, but a ballistics expert who testified for Lopez-Sanchez at a preliminary hearing last year said not even a top marksman could have made such a shot.

In April, a judge upheld the second-degree murder charge against Lopez-Sanchez.

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