WOLFE CITY, Texas — It started with an offered handshake from Jonathan Price, who was known to appreciate law enforcement officers.
Body camera footage, unseen by the public but detailed in a probable cause affidavit released this week, shows that Price’s appreciation extended up to the moments before a Texas police officer shot and killed the unarmed Black man, who had calmed a domestic disturbance at a convenience store.
Price, 31, was slain Saturday by former Wolfe City police Officer Shaun David Lucas, who was charged with murder and fired in the aftermath of the high-profile police killing. The Texas Rangers, who investigated the shooting, determined that Lucas’s actions “were not objectionably reasonable.”
Lucas, 22, was fired Thursday for his “egregious violation of the city’s and police department’s policies,” according to a statement from Wolfe City officials.
Lucas, who was initially booked into the Hunt County Jail, is now being held in the Collin County Jail on bail set at $1 million.
The probable cause affidavit states that Lucas went to the Kwik Chek convenience store shortly before 8:30 p.m. Saturday in response to a “possible fight in progress.” When he arrived, Price greeted him.
“Price came very close to Officer Lucas, asking, ‘You doing good?’ multiple times while extending his hand in a handshake gesture,” the affidavit states.
Price then apologized to Lucas for broken glass on the ground, saying someone had tried to “wrap (him) up.”
CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported earlier this week that witnesses said Price had stepped into a domestic violence situation to help the woman in trouble. Though things initially got heated between Price and the unidentified man involved, they had calmed down by the time Lucas arrived.
Lucas told Texas Rangers, however, that he believed Price to be intoxicated and tried to detain him.
“I can’t be detained,” Price responded, according to the affidavit.
Lucas began to walk away, resisting in what Texas Rangers described as a “non-threatening posture.”
“Officer Lucas continued to attempt to detain Price by grabbing Price’s arm and using verbal commands, which were both unsuccessful,” the affidavit states. “Officer Lucas produced a Taser and informed Price to comply or the Taser would be applied.”
When Price continued walking away, Lucas deployed the Taser but it was not fully effective. Price appeared in the body camera footage to reach out and grab the end of the Taser.
“Officer Lucas discharged his firearm four times, striking Price in the upper torso,” the affidavit states. “Price was later pronounced deceased at Hunt County Regional Hospital.”
The Texas Ranger who wrote the affidavit stated that, “based on video evidence, physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, it is clear that Officer Lucas did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of Price by discharging a firearm, causing the death of Price.”
Price, who worked as both a Wolfe City employee and a personal trainer, was described by family and friends as a “pillar of the community” who went out of his way to help others.
“That’s what he always did, tried to help others. I taught him that all the years,” Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, told WFAA in Dallas.
Kyla Sanders, who knew Price, was at a store across the street from the Kwik Chek when the shooting took place. She said she was devastated to learn who had been killed.
“We all love (Price) and think so highly of him and just the nicest guy you could ever meet. We’re all devastated, shocked. We don’t really know what to do or where to go from here,” Sanders told the news station.
Price’s death has gained additional attention due to a Facebook post he wrote in June saying he’d never had a negative experience with the police.
“There were times I should have been detained for speeding, outstanding citations, outdated registration, dozing off at a red light before making it to my garage downtown Dallas after a lonnng night out,” Price wrote. "I’ve passed a sobriety test after leaving a bar in Wylie, Texas by two white cops and still let me drive to where I was headed, and by the way they consider Wylie, Texas to be VERY racist.
“I’ve never got that kind of ENERGY from the po-po (police).”
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is aiding Price’s family, wrote on Facebook this week that Price’s post has been met with “much unnecessary and often irreverent banter.”
“This may have been JP’s first negative encounter with a racist white police officer. If he survived the encounter maybe his perspective on systemic racism would have changed,” Merritt wrote. “We’ll never know because he is dead at the hands of a brutal cop.”
Merritt said he prays Price’s family can “lay him to rest without feeling compelled to defend the value of his life.”
Merritt also wrote that the family wants justice for Price, who was well-known in Wolfe City, a community of about 1,500 about an hour outside of Dallas.
Following Lucas’s arrest, Merritt spoke on their behalf.
“The family was cautiously relieved,” the attorney said. "They thought this officer should be in jail tonight, but they are more concerned that this officer spends the rest of his life in jail.
“We are grateful for this first step, but it is just a first step.”
Cox Media Group