Garcia-Zarate found incompetent to stand trial for federal gun charge related to Kate Steinle case

A federal court on Friday found Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, the man acquitted in the 2015 killing of Kate Steinle, incompetent to stand trial for a gun possession charge stemming from the incident, according to court documents. 

A court-ordered competency evaluation determined that Garcia-Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, has a mental illness that is not being treated. 

Steinle, 32, was walking her dog along a Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father on July 1, 2015, when she was fatally shot. 

Garcia-Zarate was holding a pistol from which a bullet fired, ricocheted and struck Steinle in the back. 

He said he found the gun covered in rags under his chair, picked it up, and then threw it into the water when the gun went off. 

Garcia-Zarate claimed that the shooting was an accident and that he didn't realize it was a gun until it fired. 

Prosecutors argued that he intentionally pulled the trigger. 

In December of 2017, a jury found the defendant not guilty in the killing, rejecting charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter. 

He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, however, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office later dropped that charge and allowed the federal government to take over. 

The case touched off fierce national debate over immigration and highlighted San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy, which limits local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. 

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