A former Texas police officer was charged with shooting and killing Jonathan Price in October of 2020, per NBC News. Thursday he was acquitted of his murder charge after the jury found the officer’s actions as reasonable. However…every person on that jury was white. Price’s family and their civil rights attorney Lee Merritt believe bias influenced the verdict.
“There was not one person that looked like me. There was not one person that looked like my father. There was not one person that looked like Lee Merritt. Period,” said Price’s sister, Sabrina to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Reports say former Wolfe City Officer Shaun Lucas confronted Price at a convenience store after receiving a call about a fight. Lucas thought Price was intoxicated and attempted to detain him. Price allegedly told the cop, “I can’t be detained,” and the two struggled while Lucas tried to restrain him. Per the affidavit, Lucas deployed a stun gun on Price as he walked away but Price tried to reach out and grab the end of it from Lucas’ grasp. This prompted the officer to fire four times at Price’s upper torso. He died in the hospital.
Initially, Lucas was fired after Texas Rangers found his actions “were not objectively reasonable” in a preliminary investigation. However, even after finding Price was non-threatening at the time of the shooting, the jury found Lucas innocent.
More reactions to the jury’s decision from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth:
Robert Rogers, one of Lucas’ attorneys, said in a statement in 2020 that the officer was acting within the law when he confronted someone who was trying to take his weapon.
After Thursday’s not guilty verdict, Rogers said he was relieved the system worked and that the evidence showed Lucas’s actions were reasonable.
Merritt said the evidence was “overwhelming in favor of guilty” and plans to move forward with a federal civil rights case filed against Wolfe City.
He says he plans to appeal to the U.S. Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against Lucas.
“The verdict today makes every Black citizen in Hunt County less safe, and it was delivered, not surprisingly, by a jury that didn’t have a single black citizen on it,” said Merritt. “I honestly think it comes down to an inherent bias in the favor of law enforcement.”