By JAMIE STENGLE Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — A Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in a small East Texas city had offered a handshake to the officer, asking if he was “doing good,” as the officer arrived at a convenience store to check out a report of a fight, according to a court document released Wednesday.
Wolfe City police Officer Shaun Lucas has been charged with murder in the weekend death of 31-year-old Jonathan Price, whose funeral will be held Saturday at the high school football field in the city of about 1,500 people located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.
According to the affidavit, written by a Texas Ranger, the entire interaction between the two on Oct. 3 was captured on a body camera. That footage has not been released.
The affidavit said that when Lucas arrived at the convenience store because of a “possible fight” he was greeted by Price, who asked the officer “you doing good” several times and extended his hand in a handshake gesture. Price apologized for broken glass on the ground, telling the officer someone had tried “to wrap me up.”
The affidavit says Lucas thought Price was intoxicated and tried to detain him. Price said “I can’t be detained” as Lucas grabbed at his arm and used verbal commands. When Lucas produced a stun gun, Price began to walk away.
After Lucas deployed the stun gun, which wasn’t fully effective, Price walked toward him and appeared to reach out to grab the end of the stun gun, the affidavit said. The affidavit said that Lucas then fired four times, striking Price in the upper torso. Price was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In a statement Monday announcing that Lucas had been charged, the Texas Rangers said that Price “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” and that the officer’s actions weren’t “reasonable.”
Lucas remained jailed Wednesday on $1 million bond.
Lucas’ attorney, John Snider, has said 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” stun gun.
Lee Merritt, a Dallas attorney representing Price’s family, has said on Facebook that he was told Price raised his hands and tried to explain what was going on when the officer arrived. Merritt wrote that after the stun gun was deployed Price’s “body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death.'”
Police haven’t released any details about the reported fight that brought Lucas to the convenience store, but Price’s family and friends said the one-time college football player had intervened in a domestic disturbance.
His family and friends said Price, a Wolfe City employee, was well-known in the community. Price, who had played football for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, was a personal trainer and body builder with dreams of starting his own fitness center.
Tony Coleman, an Oklahoma City attorney who grew up in Wolfe City, said the community always comes together when someone dies but that the death of Price — known for his bright smile and enthusiasm for fitness — “has touched the community in a way that that it’s never been touched before.”
Coleman, who is representing Price’s family along with Merritt, said there haven’t been race-related problems in the tight-knit community.
“I have as many white friends as I do Black friends,” said Coleman, who is Black. “In fact I probably have more white friends than Black because the disparity of the population is that great.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71% of its residents are white, 14% are Black and 13% are Hispanic.
“We all spent the night at each other’s houses, we come to the aid of one another when the need for aid arises,” Coleman said.
Lucas, 22, had been with the Wolfe City Police Department for a little less than six months when the shooting took place, according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. His prior law enforcement experience had been working as a jailer with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office for about five months.
“He was an outsider, this guy was,” Coleman said. “For the community, they feel betrayed in a sense. That’s the feeling that I’ve gotten from everyone because this was somebody who was supposed to serve and protect the community, not to kill us.”