A white former police officer accused of fatally shooting a black man at a Texas gas station two years ago was acquitted of the murder on Thursday, the officer’s attorney said.
Robert L. Rogers, an attorney for Shaun Lucas, 24, said he was relieved the jury ‘was able to follow the law and put themselves in my client’s shoes’ when he fatally shot Jonathan Price on October 3 2020, at a gas station in Wolfe City.
One of Price’s sisters, Sabrina Price, wept after the verdict was announced Thursday afternoon, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
“There was not a single person who looked like me,” said Sabrina Price, who is black, referring to the jury, according to the station.
At the time of the shooting, Lucas was one of six white police officers in the small town northeast of Dallas, according to state records.
Price, a former college football player, was leaving a convenience store at the same time, a person entering the store “initiated a push match,” family attorney Lee Merritt told the station. “The pushing match was over in 5 seconds.”
Price was unarmed, Merritt said.
Lucas had been sent to the gas station for a possible ongoing fight, Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Lonny Haschel said in a statement.
Lucas attempted to detain Price, who “resisted in a non-threatening posture” and walked away, Haschel said. He used a Taser, then fired his service weapon – actions Haschel described as “not objectively reasonable”.
Lucas, a former prison worker who had worked for the Wolfe City Police Department for less than six months, was arrested two days after the shooting and charged with murder. The Texas Rangers were investigating the shooting.
On October 8, 2020, Lucas was fired for what local officials called a “flagrant violation” of departmental policies.
Rogers previously said that Lucas “only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when confronted by an aggressive assailant attempting to take his Taser.”
Merritt described the evidence Thursday as “overwhelming in favor of guilt” and attributed the verdict to an “inherent bias” toward law enforcement, NBC Dallas Fort-Worth reported.
Janelle Griffith contributed.