As an epilogue to The Lawrence Times eight-part series on the death of Nick Rice in July 1970, read a personal account of the night’s events from a bystander just feet away from Rice when he was killed.
For years after Nick Rice’s death, his family fielded an untold number of letters, phone calls and the occasional in-person visitor telling them Nick deserved what he got.
KBI laboratory testing released 50 years after Nick Rice was killed revealed that a bullet found almost exactly where the teen’s body lay was fired from the gun of Officer Jimmy Joe Stroud. But a Lawrence police captain had tampered with that evidence, rendering it inadmissible.
There were so many questions surrounding Nick Rice’s death in Lawrence in July 1970, but most local media failed to ask them. Instead, false narratives were allowed to thrive.
Nick Rice was shot and killed in the 1200 block of Oread Avenue on the night of July 20, 1970 — an innocent bystander in a crowd of more than 150 protesters. These key figures were involved in Nick’s life, his death, and the subsequent investigation.
The KBI determined that Nick Rice was not the man who tried to torch a car on KU’s campus in July 1970. But following his death, local officials sowed doubt about that fact in public statements. Even five decades later, one former officer likened Rice to BTK or John Wayne Gacy.
Hours after Nick Rice was killed in July 1970, Lawrence police officer Jimmy Joe Stroud asked authorities if he’d be charged with shooting the teen. But then the coverup began.
Five decades later, Stroud still says “They didn’t have no evidence.”
Some protesters tried to set a VW on fire as tensions rose on July 20, 1970. Lawrence police officers fired tear gas, then guns. Suddenly, Nick Rice’s fiancée realized Nick wasn’t holding her hand anymore.
Friends said Nick Rice was a nice, carefree guy who didn’t pay much attention to the unrest around him. So how did he get swept up in the tense protest at KU the night of his death?
A Lawrence Times investigation shows that Nick Rice was an innocent bystander when he was shot and killed by a Lawrence police officer on July 20, 1970. So why is there still so much ambiguity about his life and death?