HUNT COUNTY, Texas — A former North Texas police officer has been found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of a man in October 2020 after just hours of deliberations.
Attorneys finished up closing arguments just before 11 a.m. on Thursday in the trial of a former Wolfe City police officer Shaun Lucas. He was arrested and charged after he shot and killed Jonathan Price.
This trial had gone on for seven days.
In this trial, the jury heard from over 20 witnesses and also detectives. The former Wolfe City officer was represented by attorneys Robert Rogers and Toby Shook, the same attorneys who represented former Dallas officer Amber Guyger.
Families of Lucas and Price have been in court since the beginning of the trial. They have seen the body camera video of the brief interaction between them. All told there was about a 60-second interaction between them that night in October.
On that Oct. 3, 2020, night, Lucas responded to an argument that broke out between a couple inside a convenience store. Witnesses say Price tried to break up the disagreement inside the store, but it spilled outside.
Friends and family said the argument was settled before officers even arrived.
At the time, attorneys for Lucas said Price approached the officer and later refused repeated instructions. Price had physically resisted, forcing the officer to deploy his taser.
“The mountain of evidence did show that he was reasonable,” said defense attorney Rogers.
What was expected to be the tipping point of this trial was whether Lucas was truly in fear of his life and whether the use of deadly force was justified.
Attorneys introduced the body cam footage and parceled through the video frame by frame. The state argued Price was not aggressive and was not a threat.
The defense had been building the argument that Price was reaching for Lucas' taser at the time of a struggle. Rogers said during the trial that Price had not complied with over twenty commands by the officer over a short period before being shot.
“It doesn't take back the fact that is a tragedy for all sides, for everybody involved. But, we are relieved that the system worked and we are relieved for Shaun that he can be a free man,” said Rogers
“The verdict today makes every Black citizen in Hunt County less safe. And it was delivered by a jury that didn't have a single Black person on it,” said Lee Merritt, attorney for the Price family.
Merritt and the Price family felt their was overwhelming evidence Lucas shot an unarmed and harmless man.
Price's sister is overcome. “I'm feeling disappointed. I'm feeling let down. I'm feeling that my dad didn't get the justice he should have gotten for his son,” said Sabrina Price.
Merritt said they're appealing to the federal courts, to the Department of Justice for constitutional rights violations. A civil case naming Lucas and Wolfe City has already been set in motion.
“We're Price strong baby. All day. We can't be broken and this ain't it. This ain't it,” said Sabrina Price.
The trial was held in the 354th Judicial District Court presided by Honorable Judge Keli Aiken of Hunt County. There were 12 jurors and 3 alternates seated for this trial.