A police officer has been charged with murder after fatally shooting an unarmed Black man over the weekend in Wolfe City, Texas.
Officer Shaun Lucas was responding to a disturbance call of a “possible fight in progress” outside a gas station in Wolfe City on Saturday night, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said in a statement provided to TIME. When officer Lucas arrived, he engaged in a confrontation with 31-year-old Jonathan Price.
But according to Civil Rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing the Price family, Price had been trying to break up a domestic dispute inside the gas station after he saw a man hit a woman.
Witnesses say the disagreement started inside, but had made its way outside by the time police responded. Family members told Texas radio station KETR that the man involved in the original altercation then “assaulted” Price.
“I love my son and I tried to bring him up to do the right thing,” Junior Price, Jonathan’s father, said during a Monday afternoon press conference. A candlelight vigil and protest was held for Price later that evening in Wolfe City.
“Officer Lucas attempted to detain Price, who resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away. Officer Lucas deployed his TASER, followed by discharging his service weapon striking Price,” the Texas DPS said in a statement sent to TIME. “The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable.”
Lucas was charged with murder on Monday. He is being held on a $1 million bond.
The Texas Rangers, along with the Wolfe City Police Department and the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office, are investigating the incident.
The Wolfe City Police Department did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.
Merritt said that Price was a city employee who was beloved in the community.
“He was a great guy. He was a hometown hero. He was a motivational speaker. He worked with kids,” Merritt said of Price at a Monday press conference. “He deserves justice because he was a human citizen who was not breaking the law who was gunned down by a police officer.”
“When police arrived, I’m told, he raised his hands and attempted to explain what was going on,” Merritt wrote in a Facebook post. “Police fired Tasers at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death.”
The Texas DPS did not immediately provide details on the incident that took place inside the gas station. According to Merritt, the gas station has video surveillance footage of what happened, but the owners have allegedly refused to share it with Merritt or the Price family. The Texas Rangers do have a copy of the footage, however, Merritt claimed.
During their Monday press conference, family members lamented the fact that the police had not shared many details relating to Price’s death.
“I came up [to the gas station] and seen my son laying there, fighting for his life—and [the police] wouldn’t let me get close to him. I told them they need to let me talk to him and they wouldn’t even let me do that,” Junior Price said at the press conference, describing the scene after the shooting.
“John should still be here,” Merritt wrote on Facebook, criticizing the delay in Lucas’ arrest. “This is step one. Let’s see it through to justice.”
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