A video enhancement expert provided testimony in the trial of a man charged with the fatal shooting of Kate Steinle.
Shooting of Kate Steinle
On July 1, 2015, Kate Steinle was walking with her father on San Francisco’s Pier 14 when a gun was fired. That bullet would ricochet off the pier and then strike and fatally wound 32-year old Steinle. The gun that was used in the shooting had been stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger four days earlier.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a 45-year-old homeless Mexican man, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutor Diana Garcia argued that Garcia Zarate brought the gun to the pier, pointed it toward Steinle and pulled the trigger. “He knew he had a gun. . . . . He meant to conceal it from people. He meant to shoot it at people. He meant to shoot it at people, and he shot Kate Steinle.”
Garcia Zarate does not contest that he fired the shot, but claims that it was accidental. The defense contends that Garcia Zarate found the gun on the pier wrapped in a shirt, and that the gun discharged when he unwrapped it. The gun was a .40-caliber Sig Sauer, which is known to have a hair trigger. Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez argued, “The gun was pointed at the ground when it discharged the bullet. . . . Only a freakish ricochet altered the path of this bullet.”
Surveillance Video Footage Analysis
Surveillance video of the shooting was obtained from a camera on another pier located about a quarter of a mile away. To bolster the argument that the shooting was accidental, defense attorneys called Paul Hiromi Endo, president of a video and graphics company Think Twice, Inc., to analyze the video of the shooting. Endo has over 10 years of experience in litigation graphics.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez had Endo present a zoomed in and enhanced version of the video to the jury. The video shows a group of six people gathered around the area when Garcia Zarate would later sit on the pier. In some points in the video, the group appears to bend down as if they are picking things up or setting things down. Endo pointed to at least seven times where a member of the group bent down. Defense attorneys say that this video shows another way that the gun could have ended up on the pier. Defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said, “We believe that it was entirely likely that group of individuals discarded that weapon. . . . That’s evidence that when he said he found the gun right there it appears to be a legitimate statement.”
Endo also zoomed in on footage of Garcia Zarate at the time of the shooting. Endo explained that the footage showed Garcia Zarate’s foot moving and then what appeared to be Garcia Zarate bending down.
This video footage was originally introduced into evidence by prosecution in support of its argument that Garcia Zarate had intentionally pointed the gun at Steinle and pulled the trigger.