- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 7, 2017

The family of a San Francisco woman who was murdered allegedly at the hands of a Mexican immigrant with a criminal record may pursue negligence claims against the U.S. government, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero issued a 49-page order Friday giving the parents of Kathryn “Kate” Steinle the go ahead to sue the federal government in relation to their daughter’s 2015 murder.

Steinle, 32, died after being shot in the back while walking along San Francisco’s Pier 14 on July 1, 2015. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican national who had been previously deported from the U.S. no fewer than five times, has been charged with her murder and is currently slated to have his case heard in court starting next month.

Separate from the murder case, Steinle’s parents filed suit last May against the city and county of San Francisco in addition to then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and the U.S. government with regards to their daughter’s death. On Friday, Judge Spero told the family they can proceed against the latter.

Investigators believe Lopez-Sanchez filed the fatal shot from a stolen .40-caliber government-issued firearm that had gone missing days earlier from a Bureau of Land Management officer’s personal vehicle. Taken into consideration alongside his criminal record and previous deportations, Steinle’s parents argued that the federal government failed them by allowing its employees to exhibit poor gun-safety practices in addition to ignoring its own immigration laws.

“Kate’s death was both foreseeable and preventable had the law enforcement agencies, officials and/or officers involved simply followed the laws, regulations and/or procedures which they swore to uphold,” the 2015 lawsuit states.

Weighing in Friday this week, Judge Spero dismissed the claims against San Francisco but said the family is free to sue the U.S. government for general negligence under California common law based upon the BLM ranger’s conduct.

“Leaving a gun loaded makes (its) capability for harm readily accessible in the same way as leaving the key in the ignition of a vehicle,” he wrote in the ruling.

The judge’s decision to allow the allegations to be heard in court occurred the same week a legislative proposal named after their late daughter, “Kate’s Law,” was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress as lawmakers in the GOP-controlled House and Senate look to tighten immigration rules under President-elect Donald Trump. If approved and implemented, the legislation would impose a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for illegal immigrants who re-enter the U.S. after being deported.

“Parents should never experience the heartbreak of burying their child, but the Obama administration’s commitment to lawless immigration policy has made that tragedy the new normal,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

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