Prominent lawyer Lee Merritt says he’ll challenge Ken Paxton in run for Texas attorney general

Lee Merritt has represented the families of Black people killed by police officers

Attorney Lee Merritt speaks at a NAACP news conference in Atlanta. (CNN)

DALLAS – A prominent Dallas attorney who has represented the families of Black people killed by police officers says he is running for Texas attorney general.

Lee Merritt announced over the weekend that he plans to challenge Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton after mentioning the idea during a protest Friday over a man's death in a suburban Dallas jail.

Merritt has forged a national profile as an advocate for people killed in interactions with law enforcement, including Botham Jean, a Dallas man fatally shot by an off-duty police officer in his own apartment, and Atatiana Jefferson, a Fort Worth woman who died after an officer shot her through the back window of her home.

“Texas deserves an attorney general that will fight for the constitutional rights of all citizens,” Merritt tweeted Saturday.

It is unclear whether Merritt, who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary in 2019, will seek or receive support from the state party for his run. He has not responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

People seeking to run for Texas attorney general cannot file candidacy papers for months, but the 2022 election has dawn early attention following new criminal allegations against Paxton.

Last year, the FBI began investigating the state's lead lawyer after his top deputies accused him of bribery, abuse of office and other alleged crimes on behalf of a donor. Paxton has denied any wrongdoing and said he'll seek reelection.