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White Texas officer charged in Black man’s fatal shooting fired

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A white police officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a Black man in an East Texas city was fired on Thursday.

A statement from Wolfe City said Officer Shaun Lucas, 22, was fired for “his egregious violation” of city and police department policy. The city of about 1,500 people is located about 113 kilometres (73 miles) northeast of Dallas.

Jonathan Price, 31, was killed after Lucas arrived at a convenience store on October 3 to check out a report of a fight. In a statement Monday announcing that Lucas had been charged, the Texas Rangers said that Price “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” and that the officer’s actions were not “reasonable.”

Lucas had been with the Wolfe City Police Department for a little less than six months when the shooting took place, according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

His prior law enforcement experience had been working as a jailer with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office for about five months

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Price’s family, said the family was relieved to hear that Lucas had been fired, but thought it should have happened sooner.

Family and friends said Price, a personal trainer and body builder, had dreams of starting his own fitness center [Montinique Monroe/Getty Images/AFP]

Lucas remained jailed Thursday on $1m bond. His attorney, John Snider, said on Thursday that there was no appeal process available for Lucas to challenge the firing.

Snider said Lucas “acted within policy and law.

“Mr Lucas only discharged his pistol as a last resort in response to an aggressive assailant who was actively trying to take his” stun gun, Snider said.

But Merritt said Thursday that he does not believe that is what happened. He said witnesses have said Price was “too far away to even be considered as reaching for the” stun gun. He said that after the stun gun was deployed, Price’s “muscle movements at that point were involuntary, so he wasn’t reaching for anything consciously.”

An affidavit released Wednesday said that when Lucas arrived at the convenience store he was greeted by Price, who asked the officer “you doing good” several times and extended his hand in a handshake gesture. Price apologized for broken glass on the ground, telling the officer someone had tried “to wrap me up.”

The affidavit says Lucas thought Price was intoxicated and tried to detain him. Price said “I can’t be detained” as Lucas grabbed at his arm and used verbal commands. When Lucas produced a stun gun, Price began to walk away.

People gather for a march, rally and candle light vigil in honor Jonathan Price on October 5, 2020 in  Wolfe City, Texas [Montinique Monroe/Getty Images/AFP]

After Lucas deployed the stun gun, which wasn’t fully effective, Price walked toward him and appeared to reach out to grab the end of the stun gun, the affidavit said. The affidavit said that Lucas then fired four times, striking Price in the upper torso. Price was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Merritt said the description in the affidavit of what led to the shooting mirrored what Lucas’ attorney has said. He said it was unfair that it was released before the officer’s body camera video and surveillance video have been released.

Police haven’t released any details about the reported fight that brought Lucas to the convenience store, but Price’s family and friends said the one-time college football player had intervened in a domestic disturbance.

The funeral for Price, a well-known figure in the tight-knit community, will be held on Saturday at the high school football field.

Price, who worked in maintenance for the city, had played football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. Family and friends said the personal trainer and body builder had dreams of starting his own fitness center.

Price’s mother, Marcella Louis, said this week: “He helped everybody in this community and had a big heart and spirit.”

The city said in its statement Thursday that the mayor and city council are grateful that gatherings in support of Price and his family have remained peaceful.

“We also ask that you remember our city employees, many of whom worked with both Mr Price and Mr Lucas as we eventually begin the work of healing our town and the community at large,” the statement said.

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UN says Libya sides reach ‘permanent ceasefire’ deal

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Libya’s warring sides sign agreement for ‘a permanent ceasefire in all areas of Libya’, the UN Libya mission says in a Facebook post.

Libya’s warring sides have signed an agreement for “a permanent ceasefire in all areas of Libya”, the United Nations Libya mission said in a Facebook post, showing live video of the ceremony to sign the agreement.

The UN on Friday said the two sides in the Libyan military talks have reached the “historic achievement” with a permanent ceasefire deal across the war-torn North African country.

After mediation led by UN envoy Stephanie Turco Williams this week, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya”.

Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.

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Voting under way in Seychelles parliamentary, presidential polls

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President Danny Faure, in power since 2016, is facing voters for the first time in the three-day election.

Voting is under way in presidential and parliamentary elections in Seychelles, with President Danny Faure, in power since 2016, facing voters for the first time.

Polling stations opened on Thursday for a three-day election as the Indian Ocean archipelago nation is expected to see its tourism-dependent economy contract by 14 percent this year, according to ratings agency Fitch, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The contraction would reverse some fragile progress made since the government defaulted on its debt in 2008 and sought an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

A ballot paper is seen at the English River polling station during the early voting for the presidential and legislative elections, in Victoria [Rassin Vannier/AFP]

The same party has been in power since 1977. Faure was previously vice president and became president when his predecessor resigned after a constitutional amendment was passed limiting presidents to two terms.

Despite the economic hardship, Faure is viewed as likely to retain power, in part because the opposition is divided.

An opposition coalition captured parliament in the 2016 election, but has since split. The leader of one its two parties told supporters to vote for the governing party after the electoral commission rejected his own presidential bid.

Walter Jeannevole, 45, said on Thursday he had cast his ballot for Faure.

“I trust that he will help the economy back on its feet and work for all Seychellois, like he is doing now.”

Some voters complained on Thursday they had to wait for more than six hours to cast their vote because there were too few voting booths [Herbert Labrosse/Reuters]

Faure’s two challengers – Wavel Ramkalawan, who has unsuccessfully contested the presidency since 1998, and Alain St Ange, a former tourism minister – have both promised voters that if elected, they will increase the monthly minimum wage of 5,800 Seychellois rupees ($318).

St Ange has also pledged to tackle a persistent complaint from locals that high-end hotels pay expatriate workers far more than local staff.

“I see Ramkalawan struggling to fight for justice for the country and now is the time to vote for him and make him our president,” said a Ramkalawan supporter who declined to give his name.

Some voters in the English River district of Mahe island complained on Thursday they had to wait for more than six hours to cast their vote because there were too few voting booths.

There are about 74,600 voters out of a population of 100,000. Polling is spread over three days and the results are expected on Saturday.

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Palestinian’s hunger strike entering ‘critical phase’: Red Cross

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ICRC calls on Maher al-Akhras and the Israeli authorities ‘to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life’.

A Palestinian man on hunger strike for 85 days since his arrest by Israel is entering a medically “critical phase”, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, was arrested near Nablus and placed in administrative detention, a policy that Israel uses to hold suspected armed people without charge.

The father of six launched his strike to protest the policy.

He had been arrested several times previously by Israel.

“More than 85 days into the hunger strike, we are concerned about potentially irreversible health consequences,” said Yves Giebens, the head of the ICRC’s health department in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“From a medical perspective, he is entering a critical phase,” Giebens added in a statement.

The ICRC said it had been “closely monitoring” the situation.

“The ICRC encourages the patient, his representatives and the competent authorities involved to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life,” the statement said.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip have launched several demonstrations to demand the release of al-Akhras. They have also organised sit-ins and online campaigns to show their support for him.

Following his arrest in early July, al-Akhras was transferred in early September to Kaplan Hospital, south of Tel Aviv.

His lawyers have appealed on multiple occasions to Israel’s Supreme Court for his release.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has also demanded his immediate release.

Israel’s administrative detention system allows the internment of prisoners for renewable periods of up to six months each, without bringing charges.

Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, but critics and rights groups say the system is abused.

About 355 Palestinians were being held under administrative detention orders as of August, including two minors, according to Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem.

Palestinian women hold a placard bearing the portrait of Maher al-Akhras during a demonstration demanding his release at Beit Hanoon, known as Erez to Israelis, in Gaza Strip [File: Mahmud Hams/AFP]

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