San Francisco cleared in the death of Kathryn Steinle

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal judge says San Francisco cannot be held liable for the death of a woman who authorities say was shot and killed by a man who was in the country illegally.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero dismissed wrongful death claims filed by the family of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle against the city and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

The man charged with murder in Steinle’s July 2015 slaying, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been released by sheriff’s officials months earlier despite a request by immigration officials to keep him behind bars. Lopez-Sanchez has pleaded not guilty.

Spero said in his ruling on Friday that the sheriff did not violate state or federal law by prohibiting his deputies from telling immigration officials when an inmate is released. An email to an attorney for Steinle’s family was not immediately returned.

Here is a response from city attorney John Coté.

As a city, we grieve for the Steinle family. There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing a child.

But the issue that was before the court was whether the city and its taxpayers could be held liable for the actions of a former inmate. Under well-established case law, they can’t. The court’s ruling reflected that.

Kathryn Steinle’s death was senseless, and our thoughts are with her family.

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