ABOUT Corey Jones: He worked at the Delray Beach Housing Authority for eight years. He was an Inspector/Assistant Property Manager, a job that involved inspecting housing units to make sure they were livable.
He also was a musician who worked part-time as a drummer. He played in a band at his church, where his grandfather, Sylvester Banks, Sr., is a bishop. He also played with a band called Future Prezidents and worked as a youth mentor at My Brother’s Keeper, a non-profit organization that helps African-American youths.
October 18, 2015, at about 3:15 a.m:
Corey Jones was killed by a plainclothes police officer, Nouman K. Raja, while waiting by his disabled car, for a tow truck, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was returning from a concert and had a 10K drum set, he had purchased a gun 3 days prior to protect his SUV and equipment as his job took him into some rough parts of town.
Jones had been talking to a tow-truck dispatcher on a recorded line when Raja, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, drove an unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp. He then stopped a few feet from the broken-down vehicle. He never identified himself as an officer. Family members say Jones thought he was about to be carjacked or killed.
Transcript from a recording of the encounter
Raja: You good?
Jones: I’m good.
Jones: Yeah, I’m good.
Raja: Get your f—— hands up! Get your f—— hands up!
Jones: Hold on
Raja: Get your f—— hands up. Drop!
Prosecutors believe Jones had pulled his gun because he thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja fired three shots; Jones tried to get away and ran down an embankment. Prosecutors said he threw his gun, but Raja fired three more times, 10 seconds after the first volley. Jones was killed by a bullet through his heart.
Family members say:
Corey Jones, a 31-year-old musician, sent a text message saying he was waiting with his vehicle after it broke down on his return from a concert. Although he had a gun and a permit for carrying a concealed firearm his family insists that he would never have threatened anyone with the weapon.
ABOUT THE OFFICER:
Nouman K. Raja, who was in plainclothes and in an unmarked white van, approached Jones, who was waiting by his disabled vehicle on a highway exit ramp. Within seconds, Raja fired six shots at Jones, striking him three times.
After the shooting, Raja falsely claimed to investigators that he had identified himself as a police officer and shot Jones in self-defense; both assertions were disproved by an audio recording of the fatal shooting. There was no dashboard camera footage of the incident nor do Palm Beach Gardens officers use body-mounted cameras.
Raja, not knowing of the tow-truck dispatcher recording, claimed he said “Police, can I help you?” as Jones jumped from the SUV. He also told investigators that Jones leapt backward and pointed his gun, forcing him to fire. Raja said Jones ran but turned and again pointed his gun, forcing him to fire the second volley.
Raja claims he was afraid for his life as he pursues Jones who is running for his life. Thirty-three seconds after the shooting, Raja used his cellphone to call 911 and acted as if he had not fired the last three shots yet.
Raja told investigators Jones threw a gun in the grass, which was found more than 100 feet away from his body. As Jones tried to run away, Raja continued firing at him, ultimately hitting Jones three times.
Jones’ gun was never fired, and in fact, had the safety on.
This was not Raja’s first time being disciplined for failing to follow procedure.
Raja was threatened with suspension at his previous department after prescription drugs that he seized from a suspect were discovered in Raja’s patrol car more than a week later.
THE DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE:
Police allege Jones was holding a pistol later found beside his car. “As the officer exited his vehicle he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”
Raja’s supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest if he approached a civilian. He didn’t. Prosecutors also questioned why Raja didn’t pull his badge from his pocket.
Friends and relatives of Jones argue that the police account does not make sense and say he must not have known that Raja, who is 38 and was not wearing a uniform, was a police officer.
On June 1, 2016, Raja was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
March 7, 2019, following an eight-day jury trial Raja is convicted of the charges.
April 25, 2019 Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison that must be served in its entirety without any possible credit for good behavior.
July 6, 2016, The family of Corey Jones has filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Palm Beach Gardens and a former officer Nouman Raja. The suit accuses the city of negligence, “when they hired defendant Raja who had a clear pattern of disciplinary actions for not following orders.” battery and use of force; and Raja of battery and use of excessive force.
They are seeking $15 million in compensatory damages, attorney fees, and money to recoup loss of earnings, medical and funeral expenses.
“This isn’t just a tragic story. This is a tragic story that was created. Corey Jones was doing nothing but waiting for help,”Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes said, later adding: “Instead of being Corey Jones’ saving grace, he was his angel of death.”