San Francisco Public Defender and Filmmaker Jeff Adachi
RICOCHET TELLS THE STORY of the historic trial following the tragic incident at Pier 14 in San Francisco–when a young woman named Kate Steinle was killed by the ricochet of a bullet accidentally fired by an undocumented immigrant, José Ines García Zaraté. The incident sparked a political and media firestorm–spearheaded by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump–that rattled the nation, exploited the tragedy of a family, and demonized an innocent man in the process. Against this backdrop, RICOCHET follows the ensuing trial. The defense is led by a team from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office featuring Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez and Francisco Ugarte, Managing Attorney of their Immigration Defense Unit. They must overcome not only the prosecution in this case, but also the court of public opinion warped by political agendas and false media narratives.
Ugarte notes that "RICOCHET helps us understand how a demagogue like Donald Trump was able to turn an inexplicable tragedy – the shooting death of Kate Steinle – into a powerful political movement grounded in anti-immigrant hysteria. But our legal team came together and focused on the physical evidence to prove the innocence of José Ines García Zaraté, and expose the false narrative. I am incredibly proud of the work we did in this case, and hopeful this film will help us avoid falling for the same xenophobic trap in the future."
The late San Francisco Public Defender and documentary filmmaker Jeff Adachi, who tragically passed away during production in 2019, created a series of films to tell “the story of so many people who struggle and fight against injustice and the public defenders that represent them”: the award-winning short film, THE RIDE, the feature documentary DEFENDER and his final film, RICOCHET. These films were inspired by Black Lives Matter and the work to reform the criminal justice system as well as the growing need to defend immigrants targeted by the federal government.
CHIHIRO WIMBUSH: “Jeff’s sudden passing was a tragic loss for us all, but working with him on these films, and receiving the blessing from Jeff's widow, Mutsuko Adachi to move forward, gave me confidence I could realize his vision for RICOCHET. It's a film about the biggest case to come out of his office, and one that is urgent and timely, as we continue to see targeting of immigrants and people of color in this country, and a justice system that isn't always up to the task of defending them.”
Mutsuko Adachi is grateful for the completion of the film: “It’s deeply meaningful for me to see Jeff's final film come out and honor his legacy as public defender and documentary filmmaker. I know this means so much to him to have RICOCHET completed and shared with communities across the country.”