AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is not investigating the shooting of Marquis Demps, 42, as self defense.
Officers arrested Yaseen Naz, 25, for murder in Demps’ death.
Naz worked at the Shell gas station On East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Springdale Road with his dad and brother.
“These guys get along with everybody,” said Jesse Davila, a regular customer. “I think everybody is shocked about what’s happening right now.”
Police said Demps entered the store Saturday night and started “the physical portion of the altercation by pushing one of the clerks.”
Once Demps got injured during the fight, he swung a knife at Naz and the other employee, according to police. APD said Demps destroyed store property, put the knife away and got into his car to leave. That’s when police said Naz ran outside to Demps’ car and shot Demps while Demps was inside the vehicle.
“Mr. Naz is charged with murder, and the Department is not investigating this as a self-defense incident because Mr. Demps left the store and was no longer posing a threat to any of the store’s employees,” APD said in an email.
According to Naz’ arrest affidavit, he told police he thought Demps went to his car to get a weapon.
Several community members KXAN spoke with questioned the murder charge.
“It’s just wild how things happened and what took place,” said Charlie Brown, Jr., who said he goes to that gas station multiple times per day. “He’s not that type of person at all.”
Alan Bennett, a criminal defense attorney in Austin, said when it comes to self defense, “that line is always moving.”
“Generally speaking, a person in justified in using force – or even deadly force – when and to the degree they reasonably believe it’s immediately necessary to defend themselves against another’s use of force or even deadly force,” he said. “But the question is: when is it ‘reasonable?'”
He added that law enforcement will – in certain cases – deem an act self defense after an initial investigation. But if not, it’s then up for the courts to decide.
“Self defense is never an automatic position to take, rather it is a defense raised by the accused in order to justify their conduct,” said Bennett. “It comes back to whether or not a jury is convinced.”