Just under two years ago, 31-year-old Black man Jonathan Price was shot and killed by a Texas police officer who tried to detain him because he was allegedly involved in a physical altercation. According to an attorney representing Price’s family, Price was only trying to break up a fight, but that wouldn’t matter to a cop who isn’t interested in even bothering to distinguish varying levels of what they perceive as “involvement” in a fight.
Either way, Price refused to be detained and he also refused to buckle after he was tased. Instead, he allegedly reached for the cop’s taser (Lee Merritt, the civil attorney representing the family, said he only extended his hand) and the officer—who likely had a dozen different options at his disposal to protect his safety as well as others—decided his only real option was to pull his service weapon and shoot his “suspect” four times.
The officer, 24-year-old Shaun Lucas, was fired after the incident and later he was charged with murder. Despite the fact that Price’s killing came on the heels of that of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it fell under the Black Lives Matter radar. Now, maybe that was because Price was a fierce protector of police and denouncer of the idea that many of them are racist. Either way, Lucas—who was represented by the same attorney who defended Botham Jean killer Amber Guyger—was acquitted of Price’s murder Thursday.
Price had “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” the Texas Rangers said about the confrontation, according to the New York Times.
From the Times:
Mr. Lucas’s lawyers, Robert Rogers and Toby Shook, could not be reached for immediate comment. In a 2020 statement, Mr. Rogers said Mr. Price “did not claim to be an uninvolved, innocent party” before Mr. Lucas tried to detain him.
“After Mr. Price refused repeated instructions and physically resisted,” Mr. Rogers said, “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.”
Footage taken from Mr. Lucas’s body camera was played in court but not released to the public, and the courtroom did not allow any video recording to take place.
After the verdict, Merritt noted that “every law enforcement professional that reviewed the facts concluded Lucas’ use of force was unjustified,” that Lucas was acquitted by an “all-white jury” and that Lucas’ acquittal “goes against the weight of the evidence and leaves Black Texans exposed to state-sanctioned violence.” He also said he is “appealing to the Department of Justice to intervene and bring federal criminal charges.”
So, basically, there continues to be a decidedly low bar for what constitutes a justification for lethal force in the minds of cops, the justice system and melanin-less juries. And unarmed Black people continue to bear the brunt of the burden set by that low bar. Cops continue to fear for their lives while demonstrating that they are the ones who should be feared. That’s almost as ironic as an officer shooting an unarmed Black man who happened to be a “back the blue” advocate, which is just sad.
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