GREENVILLE, Texas (CN) — A white Texas cop on trial for murder testified in his own defense Wednesday, claiming he shook hands with Jonathan Price to deescalate the situation before he fired his Taser and killed the Black man with his gun.
Shaun Lucas, 24, was fired by Wolfe City, located about 70 miles northeast of Dallas, after he killed Price while responding to reports of a fight on Oct. 3, 2020.
Lucas told jurors that an obviously intoxicated Price, 31, approached him at the Kwik Check convenience store and asked him how he was before offering to shake his hand. He testified he accepted Price’s hand to try and “get him out of my space as easily as I can.”
He said he tried to detain Price and put him in his patrol car for being intoxicated in public and for possibly being involved in the earlier fight.
Body camera footage was played in court as Price is shown refusing to comply with Lucas’ verbal commands, saying he is “not going to be detained.” Lucas is heard telling Price he will be shot with a Taser before Price begins to walk away. Lucas fired and Price turns back around and appears to reach out to Lucas, who then fires his gun.
Hunt County District Judge Keli Aiken reacted negatively to gasps and cries from spectators in the gallery. She briefly halted the video, sent the jury out and warned against any further emotional reactions.
Lucas testified that as he arrived at the Kwik Check, there was broken glass on the ground and that someone outside was pointing at Price. He said that he had previously been shot with a Taser as part of his training as a jailer with the Hunt County sheriff.
The Texas Rangers – the state investigative agency – charged Lucas with murder within days of the shooting, concluding his actions “were not [objectively] reasonable.”
Defense attorney Robert Rogers, of Dallas, has repeatedly argued his client acted in self-defense due to Price appearing intoxicated and resisting arrest.
“If any of the commands were followed, we would not be here today,” Rogers said during opening arguments last week.
Prosecutors steadfastly disagree that Price was acting aggressive, calling Sergeant Jarred Hayes to testify two day ago that Price did not appear aggressive the night of his death. Hayes is one of only two police officers remaining in Wolfe City after Lucas’ firing.
Price’s friend Nicholas Crockett was at the scene that night and told jurors on Monday that Price appeared to be reaching out to catch himself after being shot with the Taser, not reaching out for Lucas.
Lucas is currently being held on $1 million bond. The trial is expected to last for two weeks.
Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, sued Lucas and Wolfe City three 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.”
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