Kate Steinle's Family Sues Federal Agencies After Alleged Murder By Undocumented Immigrant
The 31-year-old's death was "both forseeable and preventable," the lawsuit said.
— -- The family of Kate Steinle, the woman who was allegedly shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant on a San Francisco pier last summer, has filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies and a San Francisco sheriff for not preventing her death.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, seeks to hold the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the City and County of San Francisco and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for providing "the means and opportunity for a repeat drug felon to secure a gun and kill" the 31-year-old, the complaint reads.
The alleged shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is also named in the lawsuit.
The case ignited a firestorm at the time because of the suspect's immigration history and San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city -- notifying ICE about suspected undocumented immigrants only in the case of violent crimes.
"Kate's death was both foreseeable and preventable had the law enforcement agencies, officials and/or officers involved simply followed the laws...which they swore to uphold," the complaint said.
Steinle's parents, James and Elizabeth Steinle, are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death and deprivation of federal civil rights.
"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," said Frank Pitre of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, the law firm representing the Steinle family.
The gun used to kill Steinle was stolen from an unsecured car, according to the complaint. The gun was government property and belonged to a Bureau of Land Management enforcement ranger, who was on "official government travel" at the time of the theft, June 27, the agency said at the time.
Steinle was killed on July 1 while walking with her father on Pier 14 of San Francisco's picturesque Embarcadero waterfront when Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant and career drug felon, allegedly shot her with a .40 caliber government-issued firearm, according to the complaint. She had a "thriving career" in medical sales when she died, the complaint stated.
On March 26 of that year, Sanchez finished serving a 46-month sentence at a Los Angeles federal prison and was released to SFSD custody, the complaint said. Led by Mirkarimi at the time, the SFSD did not honor an immigration detainer for Sanchez from ICE, saying it had no "legal basis" to hold him because they did not have an active warrant for him.
That same month, ICE had issued a memo creating an official policy to eliminate all communication regarding undocumented immigrants in "direct contravention" with federal and state law, according to the complaint. Despite this memo, ICE specifically asked the SFSD to be notified of Sanchez's release.
Sanchez was released the next month, and no notification was provided to ICE, according to the complaint. In January, he pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, the Associated Press reported. At the time, his public defender, Matt Gonzalez, said the charge was too harsh because the shooting was inadvertent.
Gonzalez, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
ICE told ABC News it was unable to comment on the lawsuit due to pending litigation. The Bureau of Land Management did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
ABC News could not immediately reach Mirkarimi for comment.
ABC News' Geneva Sands contributed to this report.