WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump lashed out Friday after a jury acquitted a Mexican man in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier, calling the verdict "disgraceful" and suggesting Democrats will pay a price for being "weak on Crime."
Trump launched an aggressive series of tweets over the 2015 shooting of Kate Steinle, which he often cited during his presidential campaign to push for a wall on the Mexican border. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges Thursday.
The president began by calling it a "disgraceful verdict." He then wrote that Zarate "came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!"
He added that Democrats are "so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections."
Zarate had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father on the pier. He has called the shooting an accident and his lawyers said the case was unfairly politicized.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that it is "more important now than ever for Congress to secure our borders and provide the resources, including more ICE officers, needed to deport criminal illegal aliens and to finally stop sanctuary city policies that cause needless loss of innocent life.
Trump's attack on a jury verdict continues his longstanding criticism of judges and court rulings.
"He went out after judges and now he's going after the jury," said Russell Wheeler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Governance Studies Program. "He wants to compound it by debates over sanctuary cities and a border wall, but that's separate from the job of a jury. The job of the jury to determine the facts of the case."
After George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder for killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama spoke in the White House briefing room about a case that brought up a hard history of racial injustice. But he urged the public to accept the verdict, saying that "once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works."
Trump has used the case to push for a border wall and to criticize the city's "sanctuary city" policy, which limits local officials from cooperating with U.S. immigration authorities. During his campaign, he highlighted victims of crimes committed by immigrants in the country illegally, welcoming family members on stage at events.
Trump has previously questioned federal rulings over his travel ban efforts, referring to a judge who blocked his first travel ban as a "so-called judge." After a federal court blocked an effort to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that don't cooperate with immigration officials, he called the decision "ridiculous."
During his campaign he heaped criticism on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel for his handling of complaints against the now-defunct Trump University.