A former cop in rural Texas was acquitted after he allegedly shot and killed an unarmed Black man, and the lawyer for the victim's family made sure to note that the case was heard by an all-white jury.
Shaun Lucas, a former police officer in Hunt County, Texas, shot 31-year-old Jonathan Pryce outside of a convenience store in 2020, killing him. Texas authorities charged Lucas with murder after concluding that it was unnecessary for him to have fired his gun.
As the trial began, prosecutors alleged that Lucas should be held responsible, claiming that Pryce was reportedly unarmed and walking away from Lucas at the time he was shot. In a statement regarding the incident, Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Lonny Haschel said that "Officer Lucas deployed his TASER, followed by discharging his service weapon, striking Price."
Investigators said that Lucas' handling of the situation, as well as his decision to shoot Pryce, was "not objectively reasonable."
However, the defense argued that Lucas was left with no choice but to shoot Pryce, as his life was in imminent danger. Lucas himself also testified, and body cam footage reportedly showed Pryce as intoxicated and argumentative with Lucas. As he begins walking away, Pryce reportedly turned around and reached out, at which point Lucas shot him, according to testimony.
Lucas was acquitted after five hours, according to Law and Crime.
An attorney for Lucas' family, Lee Merritt, responded in outrage to the decision on Twitter, highlighting the fact that all 12 members of the jury were white. He also reiterated that Pryce was reportedly unarmed at the time of the shooting.
"Shaun Lucas was acquitted in rural Hunt County Texas by an all-white jury," Merritt tweeted. "At the time of his murder he was unarmed and did not pose a threat to any one. Every law enforcement professional that reviewed the facts concluded Lucas’ use of force was unjustified."
"The jury’s verdict goes against the weight of the evidence and leaves black Texans exposed to state-sanctioned violence," Merritt added.
\u201cShaun Lucas was acquitted in rural Hunt County Texas by an all white jury. At the time of his murder he was unarmed and did not pose a threat to any one. Every law enforcement professional that reviewed the facts concluded Lucas\u2019 use of force was unjustified.\u201d— Lee Merritt (@Lee Merritt) 1663940328
Merritt said that the family would be appealing the acquittal to a higher court.
In addition, Pryce's mother Marcella Louis is also suing Lucas in civil court, claiming that her son was killed "without justification" and that Lucas violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
A former football player at Hardin-Simmons University, the school said that Pryce "was considered a hometown hero in Wolfe City, Texas before his life was tragically cut short when he was killed by a police officer after intervening in a domestic fight at a local convenience store."