Brigid Bergin: You're listening to the takeaway. I'm Brigid Bergin in for Tanzina Vega
Brigid Bergin: On Saturday night, Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man was shot and killed by a police officer in Wolfe City, Texas. According to Price's family, he had been trying to intervene in a dispute between a man and a woman near a convenience store when the police were called. Officer Sean Lucas showed up at the scene where he reportedly attempted to detain Price, who walked away from the officer. Lucas then used a taser on a price before shooting him multiple times.
On Monday, officer Lucas was arrested and charged with murder. The law enforcement agency investigating Price's killing released a statement saying that in a preliminary investigation, they found Lucas's actions to be unreasonable. Joining me now to discuss this, is Mark Haslett, news director for KETR in Northeast, Texas. Thanks for being here, Mark.
Mark Haslett: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
Brigid Bergin: Mark, beyond the basics of the events that led to officer Lucas killing Jonathan Price, how much do we know about this shooting?
Mark Haslett: We know very little, we know basic details. It happened Saturday night, around 8:30, near the QuickChek gas station convenience store, which is right off the main intersection in Wolfe city, which is a town of about 1,500 residents. A man and a woman there were in some sort of argument, perhaps there was a physical fight. We know that Jonathan Price attempted to intervene in the conflict. One officer responded to a report of the disturbance and that officer tased and then shot Jonathan Price fatally.
Brigid Bergin: The Texas Rangers law enforcement agency investigating the case, released a statement on Monday saying their preliminary investigation determined that officer Lucas's actions were, "not objectionably reasonable." Do you know what they meant by that?
Mark Haslett: I think they might have meant objectively reasonable, which is a legal phrase that you hear in discussions of qualified immunity. In layman's terms, your paraphrase earlier was correct. It seems that the Texas Rangers preliminary investigation found that officer Lucas's actions were unreasonable and that led to his arrest Monday night. He's charged with murder and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Brigid Bergin: There was a vigil held to honor Jonathan Price on Monday in Wolfe City. I'm wondering if you can tell me what you heard from participants at that visual?
Mark Haslett: The main thing that I took from that vigil was an experience of the deep pain that people in Wolfe City are feeling. There was mourning, you heard and saw evidence of people's suffering. There was some anger, but the main thing that I took away from that vigil was deep sorrow and bewilderment confusion. This is a small town where people, for the most part, get along. This town has a good reputation regionally and the people there are crushed by these events.
Brigid Bergin: Mark, how are people reacting locally to the relative speed with which officer Lucas was arrested?
Mark Haslett: There is a sense of relief, not satisfaction though, because, of course, people know that this is just the first step in a very long process. People are hoping for justice to prevail in this case, not out of a desire for vindication, but simply to see justice served. I will say that people are generally relieved. Even though the attorney for the family is-- He has said that the arrest should have happened much sooner. Many people are pleased that the arrest was made about 48 hours after the incident.
Brigid Bergin: Mark, what are the racial demographics of Wolfe City, and how does it tend to lean politically?
Mark Haslett: It's mostly white. African-Americans are the largest ethnic minority in Wolfe City. This is a very conservative part of Texas. Typically, in this region, Republicans win elections by about three-to-one margins. This is the fourth US congressional district, which is the district that sent the current Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, to Washington. The Democratic Party did not even fill the candidate for Congress in the fourth Texas district in 2016 and 2014. This is a very solidly Republican area.
I will say that political differences did not seem to be relevant in the reaction to this event. People who might disagree politically about a number of topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the conversations about race and policing in this country this year, those differences were not apparent. The community was pretty much unified in their support of Jonathan Price and his family. I have not heard or read anyone defending this officer's actions outside of the officer's attorney who released a statement yesterday.
Brigid Bergin: Have there been any other notable incidents of police brutality in Wolfe City in recent years? Did any of the demonstrations that took place this summer take place in Northeast, Texas against these broader issues of police brutality and a sort of racial justice uprising?
Mark Haslett: There were no reported incidents of that sort of thing in Wolfe City. As far as what happens in this part of the state, this region, I can't speak to that because I don't know. I only know what is reported. What is reported might or may not correspond with reality, but as far as what's reported, we don't have many reports of that thing in Northeast, Texas. It certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, but for the most part, this is a very quiet part of the state.
Brigid Bergin: In just in our last 15 seconds, what happens next with Jonathan Price's case?
Mark Haslett: We'll be looking to see how swiftly the Texas Rangers and the Hunt County district attorney's office pursues this case. We're looking to learn the timeline for a grand jury.
Brigid Bergin: Mark Haslett is the news director for KETR in Northeast, Texas. Thanks so much, Mark.
Mark Haslett: I appreciate it. Thank you.
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