Texas Police Officer Arrested, Charged With Murder After Fatally Shooting Black Man
A white Texas police officer has been arrested and charged with the murder of a Black man after a preliminary investigation determined the officer's actions "were not objectionably reasonable."
The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement late Monday that Wolfe City police officer Shaun Lucas first used his Taser, then later discharged his service weapon, striking and killing Jonathan Price.
Price's death comes amid ongoing national protests calling for an end to systemic racism and for greater accountability for officers who use excessive force when encountering Black Americans. This includes recent high-profile incidents where officers killed or severely injured people of color including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and Jacob Blake.
Texas officials said Lucas was responding to a call about a possible fight in progress Saturday evening at the 100 block of Santa Fe Street in Wolfe City, located roughly 60 miles northeast of Dallas.
The statement said Price was thought to be involved in the disturbance. At one point the officer attempted to detain Price, however he "resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking way." At that point Lucas used his Taser and then his gun to shoot Price, killing him, officials say.
Emergency response officials were called to the scene. Price was transported to Hunt Regional Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, according to the statement.
Price's family told NPR member station KETR that he died as a result of three gunshot wounds.
The station adds that Price's family has pushed back on the characterization that he was involved in the dispute. They say he tried to break up an altercation between a man and a woman in front of Kwik Chek convenience store.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said in a tweet Monday that the arrest of Lucas should have happened immediately after the shooting, not two days later.
"John should still be here," he said.
"This is step one. Let's see it through to justice."
The investigation is being conducted by the Texas Rangers, which typically takes the lead in officer-involved shootings in the state. It said it is coordinating the Wolfe City Police Department and the Hunt County District Attorney's Office.
Several media outlets reported Lucas was booked into Hunt County Jail Monday night with a bail set at $1 million, however NPR could not confirm Tuesday morning if Lucas was still being held there.
James Whitely, a reporter for ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, reports Lucas was transferred to a neighboring, undisclosed county for holding.
Price's death has prompted residents to take to the streets to demand justice — as has been the case in Louisville, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Rochester and other cities following the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.
In Wolfe City, a vigil took place on Monday night for Price, who was well-known and celebrated as a "pillar of the community."
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