SAN ANTONIO - An officer accused of unjustly using lethal force in a drive-thru shooting at Chacho's and Chuluccis describes a situation of shot or be shot.
San Antonio Police Office Robert Encina took the stand just before noon on Monday in the wrongful death lawsuit brought against him by the family of Marquise Jones. The family is also suing the city of San Antonio.
For the first time, Encina's version of what occurred on February 28, 2014 is being heard.
Assigned to SAPD's South Patrol, Encina said he was filling in for another police officer working a security job at the restaurant in the 8600 block of Perrin Beitel Road.
On the stand, he said an employee notified him about drunk patrons in the drive-thru. It was a green Cadillac driven by Fabian Garza. Marquise Jones was a passenger in the front seat and two women were passengers in the back seat.
Encina said he went to put an eye on the situation. He said Garza tried to adjust the Cadillac in the drive-thru and hit an SUV. The woman in the car, according to officer, became enraged.
He said it appeared Garza was trying to leave the scene, so Encina went out into the drive-thru.
The officer said the vehicle smelled of marijuana. Encina said he saw marijuana and beer. Garza failed to comply with requests to get out of the vehicle Encina said.
According to Encina, as he tried to detain Garza, Jones was moving his hands in and out of his pockets.
"Get your (expletive) hands out your pocket," Encina yelled at Jones.
He said the 23-year-old complied but continued to reach in his pockets and Encina said he saw a gun.
"I saw the revolver clearly in his hand as he sat in the Cadillac," Encina said.
The policeman said he was still struggling with Garza. So, he moved to the rear tire of the vehicle. That’s what Encina said Jones started running and he said Jones looked back at him.
"I thought he was going to shoot me first," Encina said.
Encina said he continued to fire because he believed Jones was a threat. The officer said he wasn't sure he'd hit Jones until he went to investigate.
He found Jones collapsed on the ground.
"I could hear him breathing slowly and heavily," he said.
Encina said SAPD training allows officers to handcuff a person shot in an officer-involved shooting. He didn't think it was necessary.
"I believed he was deceased," said Encina.
The case continues Monday afternoon with cross examination from the Jones family attorneys.
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