A police officer faces a murder charge in the shooting death of Jonathan Price outside a Wolfe City gas station Saturday night, authorities say.
Shaun David Lucas of the Wolfe City Police Department was arrested Monday night with a $1 million bond at the Hunt County Jail.
Jonathan Price’s mother spoke Tuesday afternoon about the death of her son in Wolfe City.
Lucas was transferred to Rockwall County at about 11:15 p.m. Monday, according to Rockwall County Sheriff Herald Eavenson.
The incident took place on Saturday night when Lucas responded to a disturbance call in the 100 block of Santa Fe Street at about 8:24 p.m., according to a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson.
Price’s family said Price was on the scene trying to deescalate a domestic violence fight.
“What people are saying now is that Mr. Price was breaking up a fight when law enforcement showed up,” Lee Merritt, the Price family’s spokesperson, said. “He [Price] was wrongfully targeted by law enforcement eventually Tased, eventually shot. It all took place in a matter of moments.”
According to the Texas Rangers, which launched an investigation following the incident, Lucas tried to detain Price, who resisted “in a non-threatening posture” and started to walk away. At that moment, the Texas Rangers said Lucas first fired his Taser and then fired his service weapon, striking Price.
Price was taken to Hunt Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Texas DPS said.
The Texas Rangers said their preliminary investigation indicated that Lucas’ actions “were not objectionably reasonable.”
News of Lucas’ arrest was the first information released by any agency since Saturday’s shooting.
Tuesday afternoon, Lucas’ attorney Robert Rogers, who also represented Amber Guyer, issued the following statement.
“Officer Lucas responded to a fight in progress call. He saw several people gathered at the front of the store. Mr. Price approached Officer Lucas. Mr. Price did not claim to be an uninvolved, innocent party. Officer Lucas told Mr. Price he was detained, and Mr. Price resisted. After Mr. Price refused repeated instructions and physically resisted, Officer Lucas deployed his taser and continued to give Mr. Price instructions. Mr. Price resisted the effects of the taser and attempted to take it away from Officer Lucas. Officer Lucas only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when he was confronted with an aggressive assailant who was attempting to take his taser.”
According to records provided by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Lucas was appointed as a Wolfe City police officer on April 14, 2020, after completing basic training in March. He previously served for less than 6 months as a jailer for the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department. According to the report, Lucas completed state-mandated active shooter training in Frisco on Aug. 3, 2020.
Experts say typically when someone completes the police academy, they’re assigned to a field training officer program.
“That means that a senior police officer who has been certified to actually do hands-on training will take on the responsibility of guiding that rookie for 3 to 5 months depending on the jurisdiction in showing that person how to do the job of a police officer, so that is customary practice throughout the United States,” said Alex del Carmen, associate dean of the school of criminology at Tarleton State University.
It’s unknown if or how long Lucas went through that program.
On Wolfe City’s website, it lists three people, including the police chief, assistant chief and Lucas, as those who are affiliated with the department.
Del Carmen said that regardless of the size of a department, training is imperative. So is looking at who is being recruited into the police force.
“There’s no such thing as geographical immunity. In other words, because your police department may be small, or you may be very limited in terms of resources, this can also happen in your jurisdiction. So at the end of the day, all police departments, all entities across the state, need to be on guard and ensure that the proper training is administered, the police officers are no one is exempt from having such calamities take place in their backyard,” he said.
Monday, mourners held attended a candlelight vigil in Price’s memory. They said they wanted justice – and that it starts with answers from the police department.
Lucas’ arrest also took place just hours after the community united with Price’s family Monday night. A candlelight vigil was held in the area where he was shot, as hundreds of mourners honored his life and demanded justice.
“He was a good man,” Price’s cousin, Terrence Wright, said at the vigil. “He was a good role model. He was a good person.”
Steve Steele lives near the gas station on Sante Fe. Describing the city of Wolfe City as a place where “everyone knows everyone,” Steele said he and his wife heard commotion Saturday but were initially unsure of what it was.
“When I stepped outside a friend of mine had pulled up in his truck and he said ‘Hey, there’s something going on at the gas station’,” Steele said. “A lady had come up and said, ‘Jonathan Price had been shot’. We walked up there, a friend was already up there trying to calm people down. I saw them working on him and everything.”
The Wolfe City Police Department and Hunt County District Attorney’s Office assisted the Texas Rangers in the investigation.
Tuesday afternoon the Hunt County District’s Attorney’s Office released the following statement.
“In regards to the Officer shooting in Wolfe City, Texas on October 3, the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office is in contact with the Texas Rangers and is aware of the arrest of Shaun Lucas for the offense of Murder. Though an arrest has been made, our office has not received the case from the Texas Rangers as it remains an active and ongoing investigation. As is customary, this case will be filed with our office once the investigation is complete. Until then, the thorough work of the Texas Rangers and others will continue. Our office will evaluate the case and present it to the Hunt County Grand Jury upon completion of the investigation. Based on the ongoing status of the investigation, we will not comment on the facts of the case at this time.”
No other information has been released at this time, including if Lucas is still employed.
“I think it’s imperative today for police officers to be trained effectively, to use the right equipment and to be able to do their job 100 percent of the time. You know, we live in a post George Floyd era now where the community requires not only transparency but professionalization at all times and unfortunately we’re going to start seeing more and more of these cases until such reform in some police departments take place and I would suggest to you that there are some police departments that are in need of critical reform and others that can serve as examples for those police departments to follow. We need to digest and strategize how to make law enforcement better and more effective in years to come,” said del Carmen.
The family of Jonathan Price on Monday called for the identification and arrest of the Wolfe City police officer they say shot and killed Price on Saturday. According to his family, Price was trying to break up a domestic disagreement.
Editor’s Note: NBC 5 originally reported Lucas bonded out of jail, online jail records did not show a bond was paid, but Lucas was transferred to Rockwall County’s jail.