Texas police officer charged in killing of Black man
A white police officer in Texas has been charged with murder following the fatal shooting of a 31-year-old Black man, Jonathan Price, a state law enforcement agency said. The police officer was responding to a disturbance call on Oct. 3 when he sought to detain Price, who “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Shaun Lucas of the Wolfe City Police Department first deployed his Taser before shooting Price with his service weapon, the statement said. Price was transported to the hospital, where he later died.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectively reasonable,” the statement said, adding that the Texas Rangers have charged Lucas with murder. The incident raised the possibility that Wolfe, a city of 1,500 people in North Texas, would become the latest flashpoint in a national uprising over racism and police brutality that was set off by the death of George Floyd on May 25. “Everyone in this community will echo that this shouldn’t have happened to Jonathan, because of the character that he had,” civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the Price family, told a news conference on Monday. “However, this shouldn’t happen to anybody and it happens far too often to unarmed Black men, particularly in North Texas.”
Lucas, who was arrested and jailed on $1 million bond, could not immediately be reached for comment. The Wolfe City Police Department and Hunt County district attorney’s office, which are both helping with the investigation into the shooting, did not respond to requests for comment.
Bodycam footage suggests Jonathan Price shooting was unwarranted, affidavit says
Price had extended his hand in a “handshake gesture,” according to an affidavit.
The entire interaction between Texas police officer Shaun Lucas and the 31-year-old Black man he shot and killed Saturday was captured in police body camera footage, according to the arrest affidavit released by investigators Wednesday. Lucas, who is white, is facing murder charges following the incident at a gas station in Wolfe City. The investigation is being handled by the Texas Rangers. Lucas, 22, responded to a domestic dispute call at the gas station’s convenience store around 8:24 p.m. Saturday, according to the affidavit. Price’s family says Price was attempting to break up the dispute and didn’t threaten anyone.
Based on the bodycam footage, which has not been released to the public, the affidavit says that when Lucas arrived at the scene, Price greeted him and came “very close to Officer Lucas, asking ‘You doing good?’ multiple times while extending his hand in a handshake gesture.” Price apologized for broken glass on the ground and stated someone had tried to “wrap me up,” the affidavit said. Lucas told investigators that he thought that Price was intoxicated and attempted to detain Price, but Price allegedly stated, “I can’t be detained,” the affidavit said. The officer then tried to detain Price “by grabbing his arm and using verbal commands,” but was unsuccessful, the affidavit said. He then produced his Taser, according to the affidavit.
Lucas warned Price to comply or he would use his Taser, and when Price walked away, the officer fired the Taser, the affidavit said. While being tased, Price walked toward Lucas and tried to reach for the weapon, at which point the officer took out his service weapon and fired four times, according to the affidavit. Price died later that night at the hospital. The affidavit concluded that the officer “did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of Price by discharging a firearm.”
Lucas was arrested Monday night on murder charges and held on $1 million bond. A statement released Monday by the Texas Rangers said that “The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable.”
In a statement on Saturday’s shooting, Rogers said, “Officer Lucas only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when he was confronted with an aggressive assailant who was attempting to take his Taser.” “It’s just — this is just — I can’t wrap my brain around this,” Lucas’ stepfather told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA Tuesday. “He’s a good kid. He’s devastated. He’s devastated for everybody involved.” The Hunt County District Attorney’s office said Tuesday that the investigation into the incident is continuing.
Everything We Know About the Killing of Jonathan Price
Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man, was shot four times in the torso outside a Texas convenience store on Saturday night. His death is the latest police killing of an unarmed Black American to make national headlines. The entire confrontation between Price and officer Shaun Lucas, 22, was recorded on his body camera; reports say that moments before his death, Price reached out to offer Lucas a handshake. According to S. Lee Merritt, the attorney for Price’s family, Price was intervening in a domestic dispute when Lucas, who was responding to a report of a disturbance at the store, Tased and shot him. Price never became violent, Merritt said: “Why this officer still felt the need to Tase and shoot Jonathan is beyond comprehension,” he told reporters.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday, Merritt wrote, “Yesterday [Price] noticed a man assaulting a woman and he intervened. When police arrived, I’m told, he raised his hands and attempted to explain what was going on. Police fired tasers at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death.”
On Monday, Texas Rangers investigating Price’s death released a statement saying that their investigation “indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable.”
Lucas was arrested Monday night on murder charges and held on $1 million bond.
Here, what we know about the killing of Jonathan Price:
Who was Jonathan Price?
According to Texas Monthly, Price was raised by his single mom in Wolfe City, a small town northeast of Dallas. He was a high-school football star and went on to play at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene before working as a personal trainer in Dallas. He eventually moved back home and worked for the city government. He was known for giving inspirational talks to local athletes and working with kids, earning him the nickname Coach Price. “I just grew up knowing him as the star athlete who was going to do big things someday,” an acquaintance told TM. “He was known as this stand-up guy who beat the odds.” Another friend called him a “pillar of the community.”
What does Lucas’s body-cam footage show?
Body-cam footage has not been released to the public, but the affidavit from Lucas’s arrest details what it captured on the night of the shooting. After Lucas arrived at the Kwik Chek convenience store and gas station in Wolfe City around 8:30 p.m., he was approached by Price, who came “very close to Officer Lucas, asking ‘You doing good?’ multiple times while extending his hand in a handshake gesture,” according to the affidavit. “Price apologized for broken glass on the ground and stated someone had tried to ‘wrap me up,’” it says. Lucas told investigators he believed Price was intoxicated and attempted to detain him. Price allegedly stated, “I can’t be detained.” Lucas tried detaining Price “by grabbing his arm and using verbal commands” before producing his Taser. According to the affidavit, Lucas told Price he would be Tased if he didn’t comply and Price began to walk away. Lucas then used the Taser on Price, but it didn’t fully incapacitate him, and Price “continued to walk toward Officer Lucas” while being Tased. “Price appeared to reach out and grab the end of Officer Lucas’ Taser,” the affidavit reads, and Lucas shot him four times in the upper torso. Price later died in the hospital of his wounds, according to the preliminary autopsy report. Lucas was arrested on October 5 after investigators determined “the actions of Officer Lucas were not (objectively) reasonable” and that he “intentionally and knowingly caused the death of Price.” His attorney, who represented Botham Jean’s killer, Amber Guyger, said in a statement that the officer “only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when he was confronted with an aggressive assailant who was attempting to take his Taser.”
What does the Price family say?
Friends and family say that witnesses told them Price was there breaking up a domestic dispute. “The situation was resolved before law enforcement arrived, according to witnesses,” Merritt said. “Why this officer still felt the need to Tase and shoot Jonathan is beyond comprehension.” Witnesses also say that Price was shot in the back, but Texas Rangers haven’t commented on the specifics of where Lucas shot him. “My son got life. I want him to get life,” Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, said of the charges against Lucas at a vigil in Wolfe City on Monday. “I want to see him have justice, to feel the pain I’m feeling.
What happens now?
Lucas has been placed on administrative leave. He was booked into the Hunt County jail on a $1 million bond; he is now being held in the Collin County jail. A full autopsy report of Price’s body is expected in six to eight weeks.