A small-town police officer in northern Texas was arrested Monday and charged with murder in connection with the death of an unarmed Black man—described as a beloved "pillar of the community"—who was shot after reportedly trying to defuse a domestic disturbance at a gas station convenience store.
Wolfe City police officer Shaun Lucas was arrested by Texas Rangers and booked into the Hunt County Jail Monday night on a $1 million bond for the alleged murder of 31-year-old Jonathan Price, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Records viewed by multiple media outlets show the 22-year-old officer has already bonded out of jail.
According to a statement released by the Texas Rangers late Monday, Lucas responded to disturbance call at a Kwik Check gas station convenience store at 8:24 pm Saturday and made contact with Price, who witnesses said was trying to break up a domestic violence incident there.
Witnesses told WFAA they saw a man and a woman fighting when Price intervened. They said the man then attacked Price. Subsequently, according to the Texas Rangers' statement, when Officer Lucas arrived on the scene he first Tased Price and then shot him as he was walking away.
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) October 6, 2020
"Officer Lucas attempted to detain Price, who resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away," the statement said. Lucas then "deployed his Taser, followed by discharging his weapon, striking Price. EMS was notified and Price was transported to Hunt Regional Hospital, where he died."
"The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonably," the statement asserted.
KTRK reports civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who held a press conference with Price's family Monday, wrote on Facebook that Price "raised his hands and attempted to explain what was going on" when Lucas arrived, but that the officer "fired [his] Taser at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current... 'perceived a threat' and shot him to death."
— PrisonMomma2016 (@PrisonMomma2016) October 5, 2020
Price, a municipal employee in the town of 1,472 people 70 miles northeast of Dallas—the kind of place, residents say, where everyone knows everyone—was described by locals as a "hometown hero" and a "mentor who worked with children."
Kyla Sanders, who was at a store across the street from the gas station at the time of the killing, told WFAA the community is "all in shock" when they discovered Price, who she described as "a pillar of the community," was the victim.
"We all love him and think so highly of him and [he's] just the nicest guy you could ever meet."
—Kayla Sanders, Wolfe City resident
"We all love him and think so highly of him and [he's] just the nicest guy you could ever meet," Sanders said. "We're all devastated, shocked, we don't really know what to do or where to go from here."
Price's mother, Marcella Louis, was in bed when she received the phone call no mother ever wants to get. She immediately rushed to the gas station; however, she was not allowed near her son on the scene.
"They wouldn't let me get close to my baby," Louis told WFAA. "I just wanted to hold his hand and they wouldn't let me do that. I just wanted to crawl over there to him."
#JonathanPrice ‘s dad went to the scene and spoke w/ the officer who shot and killed his son.He asked him why he did it.
Dad: He said ‘Get back’
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Me: You asked him why he shot your son and he didn’t tell you?
Dad: He didn’t say.He just told me ‘get back. He’ll tell me later’. pic.twitter.com/WN0vaJRKvc
— Alex Rozier (@RozierReports) October 6, 2020
Louis said she was not surprised her son had tried to break up the fight.
"That's what he always did, tried to help others," she said. "I taught him that all the years."
Dale Trompler, Price's football coach at Wolfe City High School, told KTXS that his former athlete "made an undeniable imprint on my life and will be in my heart forever." Trompler said he always implored his athletes to do the right thing.
"I never thought that doing so would cost him his life," he said of Price.
Hardin-Simmons University head football coach Jesse Burleson—who briefly coached Price in 2008—called him "an awesome young man."
Lost one of our own in a terrible situation. Jonathan Price was an awesome young man during his time with Cowboy Football. Was only with us for a short time in 2008 but was always a Cowboy. Prayers for comfort and peace for Jonathan’s family. #CowboyBrother
— Burleson (@BurlesonHSU) October 5, 2020
Former Texas Rangers third baseman Will Middlebrooks grew up with Price.
This one hurts... for so many reasons. pic.twitter.com/Z1gTYJFXuX
— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) October 4, 2020
"What's really sickening is that he was doing the right thing... he saw a man putting his hands on a woman and stepped in to stop the altercation," Middlebrooks told KTXS. "The man then fought him... then the police shot him. He was unarmed. I'm heartbroken."
Middlebrooks started a GoFundMe page to crowdsource Price's funeral expenses. As of time of writing, nearly $84,000 had been raised.
Lucas' arrest occurred just hours after Wolfe City united with Price's family at a Monday evening candlelight vigil, where hundreds of mourners remembered his life and called for justice.
"It definitely outrages me, I'm furious over it," childhood friend Case Roundtree told KXAS at the vigil. "Jonathan was a very good guy and I strongly believe this police officer was the opposite."