On July 1, 2015, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez shot and killed Kate Steinle in San Francisco, California. Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant and seven-time felon, had been deported five times prior to the incident.

In March 2015, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned Lopez-Sanchez over to authorities in San Francisco at their request, but asked for an immigration detainer, so they'd be notified if he were to be released.

Because San Francisco is a sanctuary city, officials released Lopez-Sanchez without telling ICE. Several months later, he picked up a gun he found on a pier, and fired it. The bullet allegedly ricocheted, killing Kate Steinle.

Now, Steinle's family has filed a lawsuit, alleging that Lopez-Sanchez should have been in custody at the time of the shooting. Named in the lawsuit is Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff at the time of the incident, ICE, and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Kate Steinle. Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
Kate Steinle. Screenshot/YouTube

The LA Times reports that the lawsuit reads in part:

“By prohibiting notification to ICE necessary for custody, detention, deportation and/or removal of undocumented convicted felons, the March memo [written by then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi] deprived Kate of life and liberty without due process.”

The gun found by Lopez-Sanchez had allegedly been stolen from a BLM ranger's vehicle several days before the shooting, according to Fox News.

Frank Pitre, the family's attorney, said:

“The Steinle Family hopes that their actions today will serve to highlight the lax enforcement of gun safety regulations among the law enforcement agencies involved and bureaucratic confusion so that this will not happen to others.”

Fox News reports:

Lopez-Sanchez pleaded not guilty in January to second-degree murder and other charges in the death. His lawyer, Matt Gonzalez, said the charge was too harsh because the shooting was inadvertent.

If the charges of second-degree murder are dismissed, Lopez-Sanchez could be hit with lesser charges.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Screenshot/YouTube

Steinle's death made national news, and led to the introduction of multiple bills in the House and Senate. Senator David Vitter's (R-LA) bill to defund sanctuary cities failed to make it past cloture in October, receiving only 54 of the necessary 60 votes.

However, two other bills introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) are still in motion. The bills would increase the penalties for illegal immigrants caught re-entering the country after having been deported multiple times, or re-entering after having committed multiple criminal acts.

In November, Rasmussen found that “[56%] of Likely U.S. Voters favor a five-year mandatory prison sentence for illegal immigrants convicted of major felonies who return to America after being deported.”