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Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales will decide by the end of the year whether to reopen a 2014 case involving a Black San Antonio resident who died at the hands of an off-duty San Antonio Police Department officer.
After fighting for six years to reopen his case, the family of Marquise Jones met with Gonzales on Tuesday to present new evidence.
At a press conference, Christopher Herring, a member of the family’s legal team, said Bexar County assistant district attorneys will review the facts of the case and make a recommendation to Gonzales. Herring said Gonzales has committed to reaching a decision on reopening the case before the end of the year.
Jones was fatally shot on Feb. 28, 2014, by an off-duty SAPD officer working security at Chacho’s and Chalucci’s restaurant on Perrin Beitel Road. The police officer, Robert Encina, said Jones was carrying a gun as he ran from the scene of a fender-bender near the restaurant drive-thru. Encina said Jones was turning to face him when the off-duty officer shot Jones in the back. Police found a revolver about 20 feet from Jones’ body, according to court documents.
Jones’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2017 against the City of San Antonio and Encina but lost.
Christopher Herring, a member of the family’s legal team, said the family presented substantial evidence that warrants a reopening of the case including video footage and the testimony of Jones’ sister who was in the same vehicle as Jones at the time of the shooting. During the trial, the jury did not find Whitney Jones’ testimony credible enough to swing their decision.
The family also continues to dispute the accounts of Jones having a gun at the scene.
“We’re talking about these discrepancies that have to be cleared up, and only the DA’s office can do that. We have full faith and trust that the DA’s office is going to come back with reopening this case,” Herring said.
The DA’s office has also committed to communicate with the family every 30 days until a decision is reached.
“I explained to the family that rather than have the same team look at this additional information, I have assigned two veteran prosecutors to be a fresh set of eyes on the case and do a full case review,” Gonzales said in a statement. “I know the Jones family has waited a long time to get answers from the district attorney’s office. I have promised the family that we will communicate with them as we work on the new review of this case. Once that examination is complete, we will meet with them to discuss where we go from there.”
Speaking alongside the family, activist Jourdyn Parks said that justice in Jones’ case has been long overdue.
“We should not be here six years later trying to remind the world of who he was,” Parks said. “We should instead be [organizing] as a city and fighting [against] the fact that [Encina] is still employed. … Meanwhile, this family is walking around six years without their son, without their nephew, without their brother, without their father.”
Herring said that beyond losing their loved one, the Jones family has endured criticism and name-calling from the community. But they continue to persevere, and Tuesday was a demonstration of that, he said.
“I think that today we did achieve at least the acknowledgment and recognition that Marquise Jones’ life meant something,” Herring said.