Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has closed a review of the 2014 police shooting of Marquise Jones, a 23-year-old Black San Antonio resident. Gonzales will not present the case to a second grand jury, his office announced Wednesday.
The review was triggered last September after Jones’ family lobbied Gonzales to consider additional eyewitness testimony that was not presented to the first grand jury in 2015.
“In consideration of all available evidence, we believe that additional prosecution is not feasible at this time,” Gonzales wrote in a memorandum for record dated Wednesday and co-signed by Assistant District Attorneys Daryl Harris, who was recently announced as the head of the office’s Civil Rights Division, and Jamissa Jarmon, chief of its Misdemeanor Section. “Our analysis is independent of any other prior legal decisions regarding this case.”
Read the memo, which provides a summary of the case, here.
The 2015 grand jury reviewed this case under then-District Attorney Nico LaHood and declined to indict Officer Robert Encina. Jones’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2017 against the City of San Antonio and Encina but lost.
Harris and Jarmon “spent more than three months reviewing the case,” according to an email from the district attorney’s office. They, along with Gonzales, met with the family on Wednesday to discuss their decision.
“This district attorney chose to make a determination of innocence or guilt without putting that in the hands of a grand jury … [and] then citizens of Bexar County,” said Daryl Washington, who represents Jones’ family. “That’s what we have juries for.”
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. 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.
Neither Jones’ fingerprints nor DNA was found on the gun.
“I know that the gun being in his hand still presented a danger to me, the passengers in the Cadillac, and the employees who were working at Chacho’s,” Encina noted in his statement on the shooting. “I fired some more shots at the passenger [Jones], and he kept running.”
Other witnesses testified that Jones did not have a gun and was running away from Encina. Washington said the gun might have been planted.
Due to “conflicting evidence” that Jones had a gun that night, Gonzales, Harris, and Jarmon wrote, “ultimately, we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Marquise Jones did not have a gun. That fact, taken in the context of this case, means that we cannot disprove Officer Encina’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt – which we would have to do so to prove this case in court.”
The memo concludes: “It would not be appropriate for this case to be re-presented to a grand jury without sufficient evidence to overcome a self-defense claim, and that evidence does not currently exist.”
The family is deeply disappointed with the results of the review, Washington said.
“Unarmed Black and brown men can be killed in San Antonio and we have district attorneys who make all these promises to the citizens of Bexar County to uphold justice,” he said. “What’s wonderful about this family is that they’re not just fighting for Marquise, they’re fighting for all families so that no one has to go through this. … They show up for Antronie Scott, Charles ‘Chop’ Roundtree” and others who have been killed by the police.
“There’s not much else you can do if you have a district attorney who is not going to pursue charges,” he said. Under a new administration, the family will be “petitioning for someone to take a look at this.”