A Florida police officer shot and killed 31-year-old musician Corey Jones early Sunday morning.
Jones was driving home after a Saturday night gig with his band when his car broke down. He was waiting alone for a tow truck to arrive when, around 3 a.m., Officer Nouman Raja pulled over to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle.
According to Palm Beach Gardens officials, Officer Raja was wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked vehicle along Interstate 95 off-ramp when he first took note of Jones’ car on the side of the road.
“As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject,” Police Chief Stephen Stepp reported. “As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.”
There is no dash camera footage available and Palm Beach Gardens police officers are not required to wear body cameras so it is still unclear exactly what happened. It has yet to be verified whether Officer Raja identified himself as a police officer, what the confrontation between the two men entailed, and how many shots were fired at Jones.
Officials announced Tuesday evening that Corey Jones was carrying a gun he had legally purchased a mere three days prior to the incident. Jones’ friends and family members denied any knowledge of why he bought the gun in the first place; they have, however, expressed outrage in the lack of concrete evidence.
“Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing,” Jones’ family said. “Rest assured, we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly why this plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car would approach Corey.”
According to a Washington Post database, Jones’ shooting was the 787th fatal police shooting of 2015 – in the two days since, that number has increased to 789 fatalities. There is no doubt that these numbers are alarming, to say the least, and Jones’ family is determined to bring justice to his death.
“We are reaching out for help everywhere, and if anyone, whether it is Al Sharpton or whoever…even to the president of the United States, if he can help us in this situation,” pleaded Sylvester Banks, Jones’ grandfather. “God is going to bring this to justice. I believe that justice will be served.”
“No matter what the circumstances turn out to be, this a tragic loss of life that affects us all,” Chief Stepp agreed.
Officer Raja has since been placed on paid administrative leave; the Palm Beach Gardens Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the shooting under increased pressure from the public, civil rights activists, and even local police union officials, to reveal the truth.
“I understand the public concern with what is going on. We share that,” Chief Stepp reassured reporters. “The most important thing, I believe, is to get the facts out. That’s what we’re trying to do.”