Immigration nightmare? Murdered victims’ family can’t sue SF for failing to protect
A father and two sons are shot and killed in San Francisco after a gang member misidentifies them as rivals. After their bodies are in the ground, the victims’ family finds out that the alleged shooter was Edwin Ramos, a “suspected illegal immigrant” from El Salvador who had been arrested several times as a juvenile and never turned over to immigration authorities. The victims’ family sues the city, claiming that if they had turned Ramos over, their father and brothers would still be alive.
The SF Chronicle reports:
Case records don’t show whether police or juvenile courts suspected that Ramos had entered the United States illegally. But under the city’s sanctuary policy, as juvenile authorities then interpreted it, they would not have passed along that information to federal immigration officials.
Mayor Gavin Newsom reversed that practice in 2008 and ordered city employees to report suspected illegal immigrant youths to federal authorities after felony arrests. City supervisors passed an ordinance over Newsom’s veto that delayed reporting until a youth is found to have committed a felony, but the mayor is refusing to enforce it, saying it violates federal law.
Judge Charlotte Woolard of San Francisco Superior Court said cities “generally are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime.” More from the The Chron:
After Ramos’ release, federal authorities learned of his immigration status but did not take him into custody. The family’s lawsuit contended, however, that the city was responsible for the shootings because its policy had allowed Ramos to go free.
In her ruling, Woolard said San Francisco had no duty to protect the Bolognas or anyone else from Ramos unless city officials had information that he posed a specific danger to them. There was no such evidence in this case, she said
So there’s at least two unfortunate things going on here: 1) San Francisco has way too many illegal immigrants to track (which also likely means it’s politically expedient to just kinda look the other way in most immigration/deportation situations), and 2) because Ramos didn’t threaten his victims before he shot them, they’re not eligible to claim that the city failed to protect them. I’m no immigration scholar, but I’m guessing if “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was employed by the City of San Francisco, this ruling might have gone a different way.
What’s the answer to this boondoggle? To whom should the victims’ family look for restitution in this nightmare case? Should they even seek restitution? Or should they put aside those hopes and take comfort in Ramos’ status as a man facing life in prison without the possibility of parole in one of the worst prisons in the world?