Unarmed Black Man Shot in the Back by San Antonio Police, Parents Say
April 16, 2014
SAN ANTONIO (CN) - An off-duty San Antonio police officer shot to death an unarmed black man as he walked away from a restaurant drive-through, the man's parents claim in court.
Cheryl Jones and Black Lamkin sued the city, police Officer Robert Encina, Quinonez Foodservice, Chacho's 8614 Perrin Beitel Ltd. and John Burke, president of Quinonez and Chacho's, in Federal Court.
Their son, Marquis Jones, 23, was a passenger a car driven by Fabian Garcia on Feb. 28. Jones' sister, Whitney Jones, and her roommate, Dominue Carter, also were passengers. None are parties to the lawsuit.
Garcia's car struck the car in front of it in the drive-through lane at Chacho's and Chalucci's, a Tex-Mex restaurant in northeast San Antonio. The collision was minor, no damage was done and the unidentified driver of the other car returned to her vehicle to wait on her order "without incident" after Garcia apologized, the parents say in the complaint.
Encina was in uniform working security at the restaurant.
"Out of nowhere, defendant Encina approached Garcia's car and demanded that he turn off his vehicle and get out of his car for no lawful reason," the 26-page complaint states. "Defendant Encina searched and handcuffed Garcia and used inappropriate force on him. Jones, witnessing how defendant Encina was treating Garcia, became afraid and decided he would leave so that he would not be attacked by defendant Encina."
Jones was afraid because he Officer Encina harassed him a few days before, his parents say.
"Defendant Encina, noticing Jones leaving, pushed Garcia aside and began to pursue Jones," the complaint states. "Not once did defendant Encina identify himself or command Jones to stop. Defendant Encina, for no lawful reason or fear of imminent danger, pulled out his service revolver and shot Jones in the back as he attempted to leave Chacho's. There exist no reasons for Defendant Encina to shoot and kill Jones in cold blood."
Police told the San Antonio Express-News that Jones displayed a handgun as he left the front passenger seat. They said Jones ran and collapsed after a short distance, dying at the scene. Jones' handgun was found nearby, police claimed.
Jones' parents disagree. They say Garcia and his passengers were leaving to go home and that they "did not want any problems, nor were they causing any problems."
"Upon information made available to the plaintiffs by a number of witnesses, Jones did not have a gun in his hand nor was he attempting to cause bodily harm to defendant Encina," the complaint states." Defendant Encina fatally shot Jones in the back for no lawful reason as he attempted to leave Chacho's."
The parents claim Encina has a "short fuse" and a bad history of dealing with minorities, particularly blacks. They claim Encina was suspended from the police department for 45 days after an incident in 2010 at Mama Margie's Restaurant in San Antonio involving black males.
"Defendant Encina was found to be highly intoxicated, used profanity, insulted customers and employees of Mama Margie's, assaulted an employee and identified himself as 'a baller' and 'from the East side' as he initiated a confrontation with several African American males and employees of Mama Margie's," the complaint states.
Encina has been known to harass customers at Chacho's as well, the parents claim.
They blame the city for having "a longstanding record" of not providing officers with adequate training and of not stopping excessive force and extrajudicial killings. They claim police officials know its internal affairs section is a "real problem."
"As a result of the lack of training and the official custom or policies of the SPD, San Antonio remains at the top of the list in the state of Texas for police misconduct," the complaint states. "The internal affairs section of the SPD has received hundreds of complaints involving the use of excessive force by police officers without ever having taken disciplinary action. This has resulted in a failure to supervise, discipline, counsel, or otherwise control police officers who are known or should be known to engage in the use of excessive force."
The parents also claim that Chacho's is an unsafe establishment - that police have been called there 220 times since 2012.
"During the same period of time, SPD officers responded to a restaurant across the street from Chacho's 13 times and a liquor store two blocks north of Chacho's 17 times since the start of 2012," the complaint states.
City officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The parents seek actual and punitive damages for wrongful death, excessive force, racial profiling, negligence, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Daryl Washington of Dallas.