Austin PD isn’t investigating gas station shooting in self-defense, where’s the line?

Austin (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is not investigating the murder of 42-year-old Marquis Demps in self-defense.

Police arrested 25-year-old Yasin Naz for killing Demps.

Naz worked at a Shell gas station on Martin Luther King Jr. East Boulevard and Springdale Road with his father and brother.

“These guys get along with everyone,” said Jesse Davila, a regular customer. “I think everyone is shocked by what is happening right now.”

Police said Demps entered the store on Saturday evening and started “the physical part of the altercation by shoving one of the shop assistants.”

According to police, after Demps was injured during a fight, he brandished a knife at Naz and another employee. The APD reported that Demps destroyed the store’s property, put away the knife, and got into a car to drive away. It was then that police reported that Naz ran outside to Demps’ car and shot Demps while Demps was inside the car.

“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 no longer posed a threat to any of the store’s employees,” APD said in an email.

According to Naz’s arrest statement, he told police that he believed Demps had gone to his car to get a gun.

Several community members KXAN spoke to questioned the murder charge.

“It’s just wild how it all happened and what happened,” said Charlie Brown Jr., who said he drives to the gas station several times a day. “He’s not that kind of person at all.

Alan Bennett, an Austin criminal defense attorney, said that when it comes to self-defense, “that line is always moving.”

“Generally speaking, a person has the right to use force – or even deadly force – when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that it is immediately necessary to protect himself from the use of force by another person, or even deadly force,” he said. “But the question is when is it ‘reasonable’?”

He added that law enforcement would, in some cases, consider actions in self-defense after an initial investigation. But if not, then the decision is up to the court.

“Self-defense is never an automatic position, rather it is a defense put forward by the defendant to justify their behavior,” Bennett said. “It all depends on whether the jury is convinced or not.”

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