Jonathan Price’s death may have been racially motivated: family lawyer | #schoolshooting

  • Wolfe City, Texas officer Shaun Lucas has been charged in the Saturday shooting death of Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man.
  • According to police, Lucas was called to a disturbance and found Price at the scene.  He fired his Taser and then his gun at Price, killing him. 
  • Lee Merritt, Esq., a federal civil rights lawyer representing the Price family, is now investigating if there was a racial component to the incident. 
  • Hunt County, where Wolfe City is located, has a history of racist tensions.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Saturday night, Wolfe City, Texas, police officer Shaun Lucas shot Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man, multiple times as he attempted to break up a fight at the local Kwik Check gas station.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lucas was called to a fight in progress and found Price at the scene.  He fired his Taser and then his gun at Price, killing him, as Lucas “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away.”  

Now an attorney for Price’s family is wondering if the shooting was racially motivated. 

Lee Merritt, Esq., who is representing the family of Jonathan Price, told Insider he’ll be discussing race as a possible motivation with the Hunt County district attorney’s office on Wednesday.  

“There was no reasonable justification for his action,” he said. “I think hate should certainly be looked into as a factor.”

A past — and present — rife with racial tension

Lucas, who had priors for misdemeanor motor vehicle violations, had no known involvement with racist or white nationalist groups. But Twitter profile from user @shaunlucas3, which is believed to be an account Lucas used when he was a teenager, retweeted some racially insensitive posts, including a caricature of former Pres. Obama, a slur and a post arguing for drug tests for welfare recipients.  

The 22-year-old is one of three officers in the tiny town of 1,400, which is  76.9% white and 16.1% Black. Wolfe City is situated within Hunt County, which is also home to Quinlan, known as the longtime headquarters of the Texas Rebel Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. For years, the Texas Rebel Knights have taken part in demonstrations and actions across the county, and have been linked to the neo-Nazi Socialist Movement and the National Front.

In December 2018, more than 80 local residents reported discovering packets of materials on their doorsteps — printed on Texas Rebel Knights letterheads — espousing racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. The local sheriff’s department launched an investigation into the packets in early 2019, but no culprit was ever identified.  

Merritt told Insider that there’s currently a mannequin posed in a Hitler salute on one of the streets heading into town.

Will Middlebrooks, a former Major League Baseball player and childhood friend of Price’s, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday night he believes Price’s death is “purely an act of racism.”

 

“… For some reason he was singled out,” he continued. “I’ll let you do the math. There’s no excuses this time…’he was a criminal’… Nope, not this time. ‘He resisted arrest, just comply with the cops’. Nope that one doesn’t work this time either.”

Following the shooting, Price was rushed to the local hospital where he later died, and Lucas was immediately placed on administrative leave. On Sunday, Lucas was arrested and, as of Tuesday night, was being held on $1 million bail, according to the Hunt County sheriffs department. 

Noble D. Walker Jr. the Hunt County district attorney, said in a statement Tuesday that his office is waiting for the Texas Rangers to complete their investigation before his office reviews the case and presents it to a grand jury. A date had not yet been set for Lucas’ arraignment, but the county’s grand jury is scheduled to convene on Oct. 30. 

On Monday night, a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters took to Wolfe City’s streets and were confronted by counterprotesters toting semi-automatic weapons.

Friends and family say Price was ‘the nicest guy you’d ever meet’

Price’s death has shocked the town and devastated his family. The local municipal worker and star high school athlete was considered a pillar of the community, friends and relatives said.  

In June, Price wrote a Facebook post expressing his support for the police. While some considered local cops to be racist, he wrote, “I’ve never got that kind of energy from the po-po.”

Kyla Sanders, a local woman who was across the street at the time of the incident, told WFAA-8 Price was well-loved in the town.

“We all love him and think so highly of him and just the nicest guy you could ever meet,” she said. “We’re all devastated, shocked, we don’t really know what to do or where to go from here.”

Merritt says he believes the Rangers’ relatively quick decision to arrest and charge Lucas is partly influenced by recent cases of police violence.

“I think following the summer of protests about this kind of atrocity that we’re starting to see a shift in policy. An arrest was the right thing to do. They should have done it sooner, but they did it.”


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