The Justice Department is considering bringing federal charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the man found not guilty in Kate Steinle’s killing Thursday night, DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Flores told CNN.
Following the verdict by a California jury in San Francisco resident Steinle’s death, the DOJ is weighing whether it will take a separate action in bringing charges against Garcia Zarate. All available federal options are on the table, CNN is told.
Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant who was acquitted Thursday of the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle, could be heading to federal prison.
The Department of Justice filed an arrest warrant for Zarate on Friday with the goal of sending him back to federal prison, rather than allowing him to face California officials.
Fox News reported that the warrant was originally filed in 2015, following the incident in which Steinle was killed on a pier in San Francisco. Zarate admitted the bullet that killed Steinle had come from a gun he was holding. However, he claimed he had found the gun on the pier, and that it went off accidentally.
This week, the warrant was amended “to include violations related to the charges of a felon in possession of a firearm, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon,” according to Fox.
Though Zarate, who had previously been deported multiple times, was acquitted of the murder charges, he was convicted for possession of a firearm by a felon.
Following the announcement of the verdict, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Zarate would be deported back to Mexico.
“Following the conclusion of this case, ICE will work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country,” ICE said.
The DOJ confirmed earlier Friday that it was looking into filing federal charges against Zarate.
“We’re looking at pursuing federal charges in this case and I think it’s important to reassure everyone who is concerned about this that we will prosecute this to the fullest extent available in the law,” DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on “Fox & Friends.”
At the time, Flores declined to go into specifics, but did say that because Zarate was already a convicted felon prior to the Steinle killing, the DOJ could pursue charges related to felony re-entry or a violation of supervised release.
“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable,” she said.
Flores and others have also criticized the sanctuary city policy in San Francisco that allowed Zarate to stay in the U.S., even after he had already been deported five times.
“This is a person who had been deported five times — he knew about San Francisco’s sanctuary policies. This is a person that never should have been on that pier, and Kate Steinle would still be alive,” Flores said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also took aim at the policies of sanctuary cities.
“When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk. San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump weighed in on the verdict, writing in a tweet that the jury’s decision was “disgraceful.”