“We can’t be broken and this ain’t it, this ain’t it,” said a grieving Sabrina Price, the sister of Jonathan Price.
Holding back tears outside a courthouse in Hunt County, Texas, just 50 miles northeast of Dallas, the family of Jonathan Price were disheartened to see an all-white jury had acquitted former police officer Shaun Lucas, who shot and killed 31-year-old Jonathan Price on Oct. 3, 2020.
“I’m feeling disappointed, I’m feeling let down, I’m feeling my dad didn’t get the kind of justice he should have got for his son, the justice our family should have gotten for Jonathan,” said Sabrina Price.
Soon after the acquittal, the family turned to their federal lawsuit filed against Lucas and Wolfe City, Texas claiming Price’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated in the shooting.
“Our own eyes tell us when we look at the video, there’s no justification for this shooting,” said Lee Merritt, civil rights attorney hired by Price’s family.
On the night of the shooting, Price and two friends arrived at the Kwick Check convenience store after attending a funeral. According to the lawsuit, as Price was walking into the store, he bumped into another person exiting the store leading to a brief tussle. Police were called, and officer Shaun Lucas responded.
Bodycam video shows his brief encounter with Price, where he is seen asking Lucas, “if he is doing good,” while extending his hand for a handshake with Lucas, however the officer refused the handshake, suspecting Price was intoxicated. Lucas then asked Price to turn around to be arrested. At this point, Lucas refused, claiming he had done nothing wrong.
The video depicts Price saying, “I can’t be detained right now” as Lucas responds with “You’re going to be detained.”
Moments later, Lucas pulls out his Taser and aims it at Price as Price begins walking away from Lucas, who continues ordering Price to stop walking away so he could be placed under arrest.
Price, with his back turned to Lucas, was hit by Taser prongs in his arm and grabs his arm in pain. While Price winced in pain from the Taser prongs, Lucas pulled out his service weapon in his other hand and fired four gunshots into Price’s chest.
“Between him arriving to the scene and Jonathan Price had been shot to death, only one minute had expired, so obviously he didn’t afford himself enough time to figure out exactly what was going on,” family attorney Lee Merritt said of the brief and deadly encounter.
Lucas claimed self-defense, alleging Price grabbed his already deployed taser. However, two days after the deadly shooting, on Oct. 5, 2020, an investigation by the Texas Rangers determined the shooting was unjustified and recommended Lucas be charged with murder.
Lucas was fired by Wolfe City Police Department on Oct. 8, 2020, according to the Dallas Observer. Lucas had been in jail since the October 2020 shooting, but was released from the Hunt County, Texas jail on September 22, 2022, the day he was acquitted of murder.
“The lawsuit is to reiterate and to ensure the city is checking its policies and procedures to ensure any citizen isn’t the victim of police brutality,” said Merritt.
Although Lucas evaded criminal liability in Price’s death, the slain 31-year-old’s family hopes justice comes in the form of their federal lawsuit and a Department of Justice investigation into the shooting.
“He violated Jonathan Price’s Fourth Amendment rights, the Fourth Amendment protects all citizens in the United States despite race from unlawful search or seizure and when you use deadly force in order to gain compliance, that is considered an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment,” said Merritt.
Merritt says the family is still coping with the loss of Price, who was well liked within the community.
“This has come as a total shock to this family, knowing their son has worked for law enforcement, supported law enforcement, had the kind of character to know how to compose himself, he didn’t direct any kind of hostility to the officer, in fact, as you see in the video, he extends a hand of friendship,” Merritt said.
Atlanta Black Star sought comment from the Hunt County District Attorney on Lucas’ acquittal and federal lawsuit but did not hear back.