GREENVILLE, Texas (CN) — Attorneys for former police officer Shaun Lucas told jurors during opening arguments Tuesday he had “no choice” but to shoot and kill Jonathan Price, an unarmed Black man, outside of a Texas convenience store.
Lucas, 24, was fired by the city of Wolfe City, located about 70 miles northeast of Dallas, after he killed Jonathan Price during Lucas’ response to reports of a fight on Oct. 3, 2020.
Price, 31, reportedly approached Lucas and asked him how he was before offering to shake his hand. Lucas allegedly refused and tried to detain Price for suspected intoxication. Lucas then shot his Taser at the man before firing his gun at Price.
Texas Rangers charged Lucas with murder after concluding his actions “were not [objectively] reasonable.”
Defense attorney Robert Rogers, of Dallas, told jurors his client acted appropriately in self-defense on the theory that Price was drunk and aggressive, resisting arrest and refusing to cooperate with commands.
“If any of the commands were followed, we would not be here today,” he said.
Hunt County Assistant District Attorney Steven Lilley flatly disagreed, stating that several witnesses at the Kwik Check convenience store did not see Price being aggressive. Lilley said Price and another customer had a brief scuffle that ended quickly, resulting in an off-duty police officer choosing to do nothing after he arrived at the scene.
Lilley cited video recordings of the shooting that show Price twisting in pain after being shot with the Taser and reaching out toward Lucas before he was shot with the gun. Rogers claimed shortly after his client’s arrest that he feared Price was trying to grab the Taser.
The Rangers, Texas’ statewide investigative agency, stated in a probable cause affidavit in the case that Price had apologized to Lucas for broken glass on the ground, telling the officer “someone tried to wrap me up.” The Rangers say Lucas claims Price later told him “I can’t be detained” because he believed he had done nothing wrong.
The trial before Hunt County District Judge Keli Aiken is expected to last up to two weeks. Lucas is currently being held on $1 million bond.
Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, sued Lucas and Wolfe City two weeks ago in Dallas federal court for wrongful death and violations of her son’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“Officer Lucas was not in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death at the time that he shot Mr. Price,” her complaint stated. “There was no justification for officer Lucas to use lethal force against Mr. Price.”
Lucas was one of only three officers in the Wolfe City police force, according to the city.
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