Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, right, is lead into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for arraignment on July 7, 2015. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Man charged in fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 denied motion for dismissal

Attempts to dismiss the charges against a Mexican citizen accused of killing a woman on a San Francisco pier last year were shot down Tuesday by a San Francisco Superior Court judge.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who appeared in court in an orange jump suit, stands charged with murder for the shooting death of Kathryn Steinle after a gun he was allegedly holding went off. The bullet ricocheted off the pier and struck Steinle as she walked down Pier 14 with her father on July 1, 2015.

Defense attorneys for Lopez-Sanchez, who say Steinle’s death was an accident, argued to suppress their client’s statements during his detention because Lopez-Sanchez was illegally detained by police.

“There was no probable cause,” said Deputy Public Defender Christopher Gauger, who added his client was held for seven to eight hours based on shaky details.

But Judge James Collins said the officers who detained, arrested and interrogated Lopez-Sanchez had probable cause and said the charges against Lopez-Sanchez will not be dropped.

Prosecutor Diana Garcia said police acted in good faith when they detained Lopez-Sanchez, because several witnesses had seen him on the pier acting strangely and then walking away after the gun went off. One witness claimed they heard a sound like something dropped into the Bay as Lopez-Sanchez walked past.

The pistol used in the shooting was later recovered from the Bay by San Francisco police.

“Suppression is supposed to punish bad police conduct,” Garcia said. “There is no bad faith here.”

Lopez-Sanchez is set to appear in court on May 12.


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