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Case Over Police Killing of Marquise Jones Will Not Head to a Second Grand Jury, DA Says

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Kathleen Creedon
Texas Public Radio
Demonstrators protest police brutality in San Antonio after the death of George Floyd. During the demonstrations, demands to reopen local cases, like Marquise Jones', became louder.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said on Wednesday that his office would not bring the case of Marquise Jones, a Black man killed by an off-duty SAPD officer in 2014, before a second grand jury. Gonzales spoke with Jones’ family prior to his announcement.

“They’re full of it, and I don’t believe anything they tell me, I don’t even trust them,” Cheryl Jones, Marquise’s mother, said following the decision. “Like I told him, I said, ‘It’s your job for you all to stick together because that’s what y’all do when it’s a situation involving a police officer.’”

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Provided by Cheryl Jones
Marquise Jones was killed by an off-duty SAPD officer in 2014.

SAPD officer Robert Encina fatally shot the 23-year-old Jones in the back when he ran from the scene of a fender bender in February 2014 at a restaurant where Encina was working off-duty as a security guard. As Encina apprehended the driver, Jones fled the vehicle from the passenger seat in the opposite direction. Encina then shot at Jones several times, killing him.

Encina claimed he shot Jones because he had a gun, and while there are conflicting witness accounts, most witnesses who were at the scene have disputed that claim. Officers found a revolver in the vicinity of Jones’ body and evidence of gunpowder residue on his hand, but none of Jones’ DNA or fingerprints were found on the gun. The family maintains that the gun was planted, despite findings from an outside law firm the city hired in 2017 that there was no indication of wrongdoing or tampering.

An internal SAPD investigation into Encina’s conduct found no wrongdoing and a grand jury chose not to indict Encima over the shooting in late 2015. A federal jury also cleared Encina of any wrongdoing in a wrongful-death civil case brought by Jones’ family.

Marquise Jones left behind a daughter who has struggled with understanding what happened to her father.

“And I’m here with my granddaughter who’s seven years old and she’s continuing asking about her father,” his mother Cheryl Jones said. “And we’ve got to continue to explain and let her know that all cops aren’t bad, but some are, and one of those bad cops is the one that took [her] father away.”

After George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last May, demands that Jones’ case be reopened became louder. Gonzales initially rejected the requests, but ultimately reopened the case in September after the Jones family presented additional relevant information and much public pressure.

“Once my son got killed, that kind of opened up doors to enlighten people to see that there’s crookedness in the police department,” Cheryl Jones said. “George Floyd just added to that.”

The review had been ongoing since September, but the District Attorney’s office now considers the case closed. The report Gonzales released on Wednesday explained the decision not to bring the case before a second grand jury.

“Ultimately, we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Marquise Jones did not have a gun,” the report said. “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 to prove this case in court.”

The denial of a second grand jury is a setback for the Jones family, but they are not letting it end here.

“We’re going to continue fighting for my son,” Cheryl Jones said. “Because that’s the least they can do is give him the justice he deserves.”

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Josh Peck is a former TPR newsroom intern.