Jeff Adachi was a filmmaker as well as a public defender. (Credit: Jim Choi)

SAN FRANCISCO — “Ricochet” is the final film directed by Jeff Adachi – the former San Francisco public defender. Shortly before his passing, Adachi expressed a wish to create films that would tell “the story of so many people who struggle and fight against injustice, and the public defenders that represent them.”

To this end, Adachi created a series of films focused on the work of the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender: the award-winning short film “The Ride” and the feature documentary film “Defender.” Adachi felt “that with Black Lives Matter, and the criminal justice reform movement in this country, the time is now to show the important work that public defenders do every day in fighting for the constitutional rights of everyday Americans.”

Adachi began filming “Ricochet” in late 2017 as the biggest case his office had ever taken on – The People of the State of California v. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate – got under way. Filming continued through the spring of 2018, and the first edits were created that year as well. Adachi suddenly and tragically passed in February 2019, putting the film on hold indefinitely.

After a time of mourning, his long-time editor, Chihiro Wimbush, took over directing/producing duties with the blessing of Adachi’s widow Mutusko. Now the long, winding journey of this production is entering its final phase.

“It’s deeply meaningful for me to see Jeff’s final film come out and honor his legacy as public defender and documentary filmmaker,” said Mutsuko Adachi. “I know this would mean so much to him to have ‘Ricochet’ completed and shown to communities across the country.”

About the Film

Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez speaks to the press after the verdict. (Credit: Jenny Chu)

“Ricochet” tells the story of the historic trial following a 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, Jose Garcia Zarate. The incident sparked a political and media firestorm – spearheaded by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald Trump – that rattled the nation and exploited the tragedy of a family.

“Ricochet” weaves this background through the main narrative of the trial, led by a defense team from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office featuring Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez and Francisco Ugarte, managing attorney of the 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.

“‘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,” said Ugarte. “But our legal team came together and focused on the physical evidence to prove the innocence of Jose Inés Garcia Zárate, 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.”

Managing Attorney Francisco Ugarte. (Credit: Jenny Chu)

Why Support Is Needed

From the filmmakers: “We are now very close to a final cut, and we need to raise $50,000 in the next three weeks to get there. Your support will help pay for the many elements needed to complete the film, including sound mix, color correction, music, licensing, legal and insurance costs, and other post-production elements vital to bring this film to light. Additional funds beyond this goal will allow us to publicize the film in the way it deserves so we can share this story as widely as possible with impact.

“All of our GoFundMe donors will have their names added to the film’s credits as a thank you, unless you request to remain anonymous. We deeply appreciate your help, and can’t wait to bring Jeff’s final film to the world.”

Chihiro Wimbush has taken over as director/producer of “Ricochet.”

About the Team

Jeff Adachi was the elected public defender for the City of San Francisco. He was also an accomplished documentary filmmaker, who worked to tell the stories of public defenders and the important work they do for American democracy. His previous works include “The Slanted Screen,” “You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story,” “Racial Facial,” “The Ride,” and “Defender.”

Chihiro Wimbush is an Emmy-nominated director of “Dogtown Redemption” and numerous other films, and is the editor of Adachi’s trilogy of films about the San Francisco public defenders. He is the founder of Karuna Media LLC, which is producing “Ricochet” in association with Adachi’s AAMM Productions.

For more information, go to:

The website,


To visit the GoFundMe page, click here. As of Tuesday, nearly $3,000 has been raised.

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