SAN ANTONIO – Lawyers for the city of San Antonio and a San Antonio police officer have filed responses to a request for a new trial in the federal lawsuit by the family of a man who was killed by the officer.
Marquise Jones was shot in the back while running from San Antonio Police Department Officer Robert Encina in February 2014. Jones was a passenger in a car that was involved in a minor accident in the drive-thru of Chacho's and Chalucci's off Perrin Beitel. Encina said Jones ran from the car and had a gun. Encina said he feared for his safety and shot Jones, killing him.
In April, a jury sided against the Jones family. They filed a request for a new trial with an 11-page motion calling the April 6 jury verdict "contrary to the great weight of the evidence."
"This case is, and has always been, centered on whether Defendant Robert Encina's actions -- his use of deadly force to shoot and kill Marquise Jones as he was running from the scene -- was objectively reasonable under the circumstances," the document states. "However, the jury never reached that issue. Instead, the jury only answered Question 1 -- a question that centered exclusively on whether Encina used excessive and unnecessary deadly force in violation of Marquise Jones' federal constitutional rights. The (jury) answered 'no' to Question 1 and therefore did not reach the question of whether Encina's conduct was objectively reasonable."
The jury verdict form instructed the jury foreperson to proceed to the second question if the jury answered "yes." It instructed the foreperson if the answer is "no," to sign the verdict form and report the verdict.
This week, attorneys for the city and Encina pushed back, calling the question about whether Encina's conduct was "objectively reasonable" "flatly false."
"Plaintiffs should have sought summary judgment or moved for a directed verdict when the Defendants closed. But the jury heard and weighed the evidence, resolved witness credibility and returned a verdict," the motion filed by the city said. "New trial is not warranted simply because the jury gave an answer that did not harmonize with the Plaintiffs' narrative."
Encina's attorney also addressed the "objectively reasonable" question by arguing "whether Encina had probable cause to believe that Jones posed a threat of serious physical harm either to Encina or others -- was an entirely different issue and an issue reserved entirely for Question 2. Only Question 2 uses the word 'reasonable.'"
A judge has yet to rule on whether there will be a new trial.
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