(SAN FRANCISCO) — The family of Kate Steinle, the woman gunned down on a San Francisco pier this summer, filed a lawsuit Tuesday over her death.
The lawsuit names San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“We’re frustrated,” Brad Steinle, Kate’s brother, said Tuesday at a family news conference. “We’re here to make sure that a change is made so nobody has to endure the pain that my mom and dad and I go through on a daily basis.
“Because the system failed our sister,” he added, fighting back tears. “And at this point nobody has taken responsibility, accountability. And nothing has changed.”
Steinle said the family hopes to “start the process of change so people will feel safe when they come to this city.”
Kate Steinle, 32, was walking on a pier with her father July 1 when she was shot dead, authorities said. Sanchez pleaded not guilty to murder, according to court records.
The Steinle family blames the officials who released the suspect from jail prior to the July shooting. The suspect, Francisco Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant, had been deported several times.
Sanchez has five previous convictions for re-entry after deportation, according to court records. He was on probation in Texas at the time of the shooting and served federal time for sneaking back into the country.
The Bureau of Land Management has said that the gun used was stolen from a federal agent’s car. The gun was government property and belonged to one of their enforcement rangers, the BLM said in a statement.
A BLM official told ABC News that the theft took place from a secured vehicle on June 27. The theft was then immediately reported to the San Francisco police, a BLM statement said.
“It’s too late for us, that ship has sailed,” Liz Sullivan, Kate’s mother, said to ABC station KGO-TV. “But we want it for future, possible victims.”
Sheriff Mirkarimi has said federal authorities did not provide the legal basis his department would have needed to hold Sanchez, who was released in April by San Francisco officials after marijuana charges against him were dropped.
“Federal courts have actually held that detaining someone for ICE is unconstitutional, it’s unlawful,” sheriff’s office attorney Mark Nicco said, according to KGO-TV.
San Francisco’s sanctuary-related ordinance says the sheriff can comply with federal detainers if the person was convicted of a violent felony or currently faces a similar offense.
“If we’re not honoring ICE holds, but out the back door calling ICE to come pick somebody up, I think that’s a complete contrast to what the due process for all law is,” Nicco said.
In July, Mirkarimi said that, on Dec. 11, 1995, a San Francisco court issued a bench warrant for Sanchez’s arrest for failing to appear on felony drug charges.
On March 23, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Prisons called the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and requested confirmation for an outstanding 1995 felony warrant for Sanchez for possession of marijuana and sale of marijuana, Mirkarimi said. The Federal Bureau of Prisons wanted to confirm the warrant was still in effect in San Francisco, Mirkarimi said, adding that the sheriff’s department followed established protocols.
On March 26, 2015, Sanchez was transported to San Francisco County Jail and booked on the 20-year-old felony warrant, Mirkarimi said. On March 27, 2015, Sanchez appeared in court and the District Attorney moved to dismiss the charges.
Between March 27 and April 14, 2015, the Sheriff’s office communicated with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to confirm that Sanchez had completed his federal sentence, Mirkarimi said. On April 15, 2015, Sanchez was legally released from San Francisco County Jail after the sheriff’s department confirmed he had no outstanding warrants or judicial orders.
Based on a city ordinance and the police’s policy on immigration detainers, Sanchez was deemed ineligible for extended detention for U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) proceedings, Mirkarimi said.
ICE “did not provide the Sheriff’s Department with a warrant or a judicial order to hold him for proceedings,” Mirkarimi said in July.
“Had ICE sought the requested legal order or warrant, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department naturally and will always comply and would have complied if that legal order or warrant would have been presented to us,” Mirkarimi said. “While Sheriff Mirkarimi can’t comment on potential litigation, he continues to extend his deepest sympathy to the Steinle family for their loss.”
Kenya Briggs, Public Information Officer for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, said in a statement Monday, “While Sheriff Mirkarimi can’t comment on potential litigation, he continues to extend his deepest sympathy to the Steinle family for their loss.”
Representatives for ICE and the BLM did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Tuesday.
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