After deliberating for three hours, a jury in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Marquise Jones’ family decided Thursday that the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio police officer Robert Encina were not liable in Jones’ death.
No damages will be awarded to the family of Jones, 23, who was fatally shot by Encina in the back on Feb. 28, 2014, at a Chacho’s restaurant on Perrin Beitel Road. Encina, who was off duty but working security for Chacho’s that evening, said Jones pulled out a gun and pointed it at him. Encina, who refused to comment after he left the federal courthouse, testified that he shot Jones because he feared for his life.
In 2015, a Bexar County grand jury voted not to indict Encina on criminal charges following an internal SAPD investigation that found he was justified in using force. The civil case, which began March 27, centered around a gun recovered at the scene that had no fingerprints on it and had a registration number that wasn’t associated with an owner. There was controversy over whether the weapon was Jones’ or whether it was planted at the scene.
The fingerprint test performed on the handgun at the time was not made known to City officials until more than a year later, prompting them to hire an independent investigator to find out why.
Over the past week, the jury listened to testimony, including accounts from three witnesses who were in the drive-thru line at the Northeast side restaurant the night of Jones’ death. Encina and SAPD Chief William McManus testified in the case.
Jones’ case has led to strains in local police-community relations, prompting public protest and the creation of the mayor’s Council on Police-Community Relations.
“While we agree with the jury’s verdict, we fully recognize that there is never any victory in a fatal shooting,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley in a statement. “Our condolences continue to be extended to the family of Marquise Jones on the loss of a loved one. The Mayor, City Council, City staff and the San Antonio Police Department will continue on the path toward building stronger relationships with the communities we serve.”
In a statement released after the verdict, local activist Mike Lowe noted that not one of the jurors was black, and called Jones’ death a reality of “anti-blackness.” Lowe is a friend of the Jones family and founder of SATX4.
“The violent death of Marquise Jones and this verdict rendered by the jury is a reminder state sanctioned violence against Black humanity continues to oppress the Black community,” Lowe stated.
Daryl Washington, the Jones family’s attorney, told the San Antonio Express-News that he will continue to analyze trial records to see what further action can be taken. He said some evidence pertaining to prior actions by Encina was not allowed to be presented to the jury. Washington said they “have to go back to the drawing board and see what we’re going to do, but it’s far from over.
“It’s definitely not over.”