A Wolfe City, Texas, police officer is facing murder charges after he reportedly fatally shot Jonathan Price, a resident who is now being hailed as a “pillar of the community.”
What are the details of the incident?
Wolfe City Police Officer Shaun Lucas responded to a Saturday night call at a local gas station following reports of a fight.
Witnesses told reporters that 31-year-old Price — who was at the gas station during the fateful incident — attempted to break up the fight even before Lucas arrived on the scene.
Witnesses to the exchange reported that Price intervened after a man reportedly assaulted a woman.
According to Department of Public Safety, when Lucas arrived on the scene, he attempted to detain Price, who “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away.”
Lucas then reportedly deployed his Taser gun on Price, and then fatally shot him.
Police have not yet announced whether Price was armed at the time of the incident.
On Monday, the Wolfe City Police Department announced Lucas’s suspension. Shortly after the news, the Texas Rangers arrested the officer and charged him with murder in connection with Price’s shooting death. Lucas was booked into the Hunt County Jail and held on $1 million bond. He bonded out that evening, according to KTVT-TV.
In a statement to the Washington Post, the Texas Department of Public Safety said, “The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not … reasonable.”
Price, a city employee and a personal trainer, died at a nearby hospital, according to various reports.
What was the reaction to Price’s death?
Kyla Sanders, a Wolfe City resident, told WFAA-TV that Price was a “pillar of the community.”
“We all love him and think so highly of him, and just the nicest guy you could ever meet,” Sanders said.
Price’s father, Junior, told the station, “I want to see the man get what’s coming to him for killing my son.”
He also said that he rushed to the scene following the shooting and demanded Lucas tell him what happened.
“He just told me to get back,” he recalled. “He said he’d tell me later. And later ain’t gotten here yet.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family, said in a Facebook post that “[w]hen police arrived … [Price] 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.”
Merritt also said that Price was an all-around “great guy.”
“He was a hometown hero,” Merritt said according to the Post. “He was a motivational speaker. He worked with kids.”
Merritt added that the gas station has surveillance video of the incident, which was turned over to police.
Neither Merritt nor the family have seen the footage at the time of this reporting. Wolfe City is 70 miles northeast of Dallas.
According to the attorney, Wolfe City Police Chief Matthew Martin told him that he was “not happy with what he saw.”
A GoFundMe page set up by close friend and former MLB player Will Middlebrooks has received more than $70,752 in donations for the family.
He tweeted about the incident on Sunday, writing, “… My friend tried to break up a fight between a man and a woman at a gas station, bc that’s how we were raised. Don’t put your hands on a woman. Yet he was singled out in the fight, shot and killed… unarmed… no weapon… just his skin color.
Want some proof? My friend tried to break up a fight between a man and a woman at a gas station, bc that’s how we were raised. Don’t put your hands on a woman. Yet he was singled out in the fight, shot and killed… unarmed… no weapon… just his skin color. https://t.co/rvY2k49Tz1— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) October 4, 2020