Earlier this month, Wolfe City police officer Shaun Lucas shot and killed Jonathan Price, a Black man who had been breaking up a fight between a man and a woman. The small Texas town came together to mourn for Price, a trainer and city employee, but some locals told The Washington Post they had been concerned about Lucas’ methods ever since he joined the force.
According to the outlet, locals had warned each other about Lucas being “another mean police officer” and said he targeted Black residents and acted hostilely during minor violations, like traffic stops. In one cautionary Facebook post, residents said the officer stopped “everything that moves at night.”
Others told the Post that Lucas’ “vibe was off” and said they warned Black visitors “to be careful when [they] came to town.” One woman even said she was reluctant to go see her parents in Wolfe City for fear of encountering the cop.
Another man, James Alton Brown, recounted his experience with Lucas when he was arrested for public intoxication. The 65-year-old told Lucas that he was only drinking soda and that he had difficulty walking because of a serious limp. The public intoxication charges against Brown were later dropped, but he was still charged with resisting arrest.
Lucas was charged with murder in Price’s fatal shooting and was fired from the Wolfe City Police Department last week. According to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, he had been employed by the department for just under six months.
After conducting an investigation into the shooting, the Texas Rangers concluded that Price “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away” and said Lucas’ actions were not “reasonable.”
According to the Rangers’ affidavit, Lucas was responding to a “possible fight” outside of the gas station that night. The cop was greeted by Price, who asked him, “You doing good?” several times and extended his hand in a handshake gesture. The affidavit states Price apologized for some broken glass on the ground, saying someone had tried “to wrap me up.” Lucas thought Price was intoxicated, the Rangers said, and tried to detain him.
“I can’t be detained,” Price said as Lucas tried to grab his arm. Lucas then pulled out a taser and deployed the weapon while Price was walking away from him. According to the affidavit, Price tried to grab the taser and Lucas fired four shots, one hitting him fatally in the torso.
Prosecutors have argued that the fight had already calmed down by the time Lucas arrived and that there was no reason to detain Price or use force against him.
“The situation already was calm. There was no problem,” Attorney Blerim Elmazi said. “Officer Lucas completely and unreasonably escalated a situation when there really was no situation to begin with.”
Earlier this month, Lucas was released from jail after posting his $1 million bond.