Longtime San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi dies suddenly at 59

ByCornell Barnard via KGO logo
Sunday, February 24, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

San Francisco is mourning the loss of man described as a warrior for criminal justice reform.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is mourning the loss of a man described as a warrior for criminal justice reform. Public Defender Jeff Adachi died suddenly Friday night, and many are in shock over his passing.

Employees at the San Francisco Public Defender's office were showing up in tears, shocked about the sudden passing of their boss Jeff Adachi.

A memorial to him was on display near the front door.

"He had so much energy for the fight we're in, It's a big loss he's not replaceable in any fashion," Chief Deputy Public Defender, Matt Gonzalez said.

Adachi was in his 5th term as public defender.

Matt Gonzalez says Adachi was dining with a friend in North Beach when he became ill.

RELATED: San Francisco says farewell to Mayor Ed Lee

"After dinner, he had difficulty breathing and then stopped breathing EMTs worked on him for 20 mins," said Gonzalez.

He died later at California Pacific Medical Center.

Mayor London Breed says Adachi was a true advocate.

"He was about trying to change lives and save lives, It's a real loss to our community and our city," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Adachi stepped into the national spotlight when he defended a convicted felon and undocumented immigrant accused in the shooting death of Kate Steinle, who was walking on a San Francisco pier.

The incident became a major campaign issue in 2016 for tougher immigration policies.

Mayor Breed says she will appoint a new public defender to succeed Adachi.