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The white Texas police officer who tased and fatally shot Jonathan Price at a small town gas station this month is allegedly known by a number of locals for his overly-aggressive policing tactics.
Shaun Lucas, the Wolfe City police officer in question, had been on the force for less than six months before carrying out the deadly arrest of Price, an unarmed 31-year-old Black man.
Before Price’s shooting, however, Lucas had already cemented his reputation as an overzealous rookie with a tendency to harass the town’s Black residents, a number of locals claim, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.
In the weeks following Lucas’ arrival in the small Texas town of 1,400 people, residents used social media to warn their neighbors about the “new cop.” The 22-year-old police officer, locals complained, was “another mean police officer” who pulled over “everything that moves at night.”
“Where the hell did he come from?” Veronica Brown, a Wolfe City resident, told the Washington Post. “He is the worst cop Wolfe City ever had.”
Lucas arrested Brown’s 65-year-old cousin, she claimed, after the young police officer mistakenly suspected her elderly relative was intoxicated due to a limp.
“He thought I was drunk,” the man, James Alton Brown, told the Post. “So he took me to jail.”
The charges were ultimately dropped, the newspaper reported.
Other Black residents, too, questioned Lucas’ overzealous approach to law enforcement — and went out of their way to avoid him.
“His vibe was off,” Alexandria Childs recalled her father cautioning her, the Post reported.
Childs, a Black woman, also said her family warned her to “be careful” when she “came to town” because of Lucas.
Lee Merritt, Price's family attorney, who also represents Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd's relatives, called Price's shooting a "huge tragedy" on Wednesday. The family's lawyer, too, suspects Lucas has a “history of racism.”
“I can’t tell you what was in the head of Mr. Lucas,” Merritt told Oxygen.com. “I can tell you that he was a white officer, that he has a history of racism, and that he shot a Black man without justification.”
On Oct. 3, Wolfe City police responded to a “possible fight” at a rural filling station, Texas Rangers said in a statement. There, Lucas encountered Price, who reportedly had helped break up the skirmish, according to his family’s lawyer.
Price, who first greeted Lucas — and extended his arm to shake his hand — was eventually tased several times and shot once in the torso by the police officer following a brief struggle, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
“The officer, at some point, told Jon that he was going to be detained — Jon walked away,” Merritt added. “He did not want to be detained. He was not interested in being detained, at which point Jon was tased."
After Lucas tased Price, he opened fire, letting off four rounds.
“The taser did not take Jon to the ground but it did cause his body to tense up and convulse from the shock,” Merritt explained. “While he was tensing up and convulsing from the shock he was shot.”
One bullet struck Pierce’s upper torso. Three other bullets were found lodged in an ice freezer at the gas station, according to the Post. Price was later pronounced dead at Hunt Regional Hospital. Body camera footage of the incident hasn’t yet been made available to the public.
Texas Rangers, who arrested Lucas and have recommended murder charges, said his actions were “not objectionably unreasonable.”
“From my initial investigation, I can’t find a valid justification for the use of force,” Merritt said.
Lucas is being held on a $1 million bond. It's unclear if he's retained legal representation. The disgraced officer was terminated last week, city officials confirmed.
Meritt said Price was a motivational speaker and former college football player, who was widely regarded as a “hometown hero” in Wolfe City. His death also triggered demonstrations in the rural community as well across the state and country.
“Jonathan Price should be alive,” former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke wrote on Twitter. “Police must stop killing Black men and women.”
A funeral was held for Price on Saturday.
"The family’s having a difficult time," Merritt said. "Laying him to rest did provide the family some relief but they laid him to rest without knowing how his case will turn out, whether there will be justice ... tt’s still a very tense and raw time."
Merritt, who noted official charges haven't been pressed against Lucas, is meeting with Hunt County District Attorney Noble Walker’s office later this week. Lucas, he said, could be indicted in the coming days.
“We want this to be a situation that proves that officer will be held to the same standard as everyone else when they commit a crime,” Merritt said. “We want to see a swift indictment from the grand jury.”
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