Former Officer Who Killed Corey Jones Denied Stand Your Ground Immunity

Corey Jones

Corey Jones was a musician and housing inspector.  He also owned and carried a gun legally.  Corey was 31-years old on the night of October 18, 2015 when Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman K. Raja was on duty in plain clothes and an unmarked car.  Corey had performed with his band and was on his way home when his car broke-down near a highway exit ramp.

Officer Nouman K. Raja, now 40-year olds, had been on the job for 6 months.  He stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle on the darkened ramp. Raja claimed that when he stepped out of his vehicle, “he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”

When Raja approached Corey, Corey was on the phone with AT&T Roadside Assistance. The call was recording as Raja and Corey had a verbal exchange. Raja fired 6-shots, hitting Corey 3 times killing him.

A month later, Raja was fired from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.  In June 2016, Raja was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.  Raja posted a $250,000 bail and was place on house arrest.

Nouman K. Raja

On April 19, 2018, Raja filed a motion to dismiss the charges under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.  The hearing was held in May 2018.

On June 1, 2018, Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer of Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit Court, denied Raja Stand Your Ground.  Much of the judge’s 27 page decision addresses Stand Your Ground Law, and the change that the Florida legislature made for the party carrying the burden of proof.

The Stand Your Ground hearing involved lots of forensic testimony.  For example, the distance from where Corey’s body was found from his vehicle; the distance where his gun was found from his body; that Corey’s gun had not been fired; the syncing of the call to AT&T recording the shots, with Raja’s 911 call 33 seconds later where he was yelling “Drop the gun” but no shots were heard.   Raja also said that he had lost sight of Corey.

A portion of the judge’s Finding of Fact, beginning with page 10, is something I found most interesting.  Raja’s defense was that he identified himself to Corey as a police officer.  That defense raises the possibility that if Corey went for his gun that he did with intention of using it on an officer of the law.  At the hearing, Raja’s defense entered the call to AT&T Roadside Assistance into evidence, and called a forensic audio analyst to the stand.

Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer found;

“First, Defendant called Frank Piazza(“Piazza”), a forensic audio analyst albeit not a voice recognition analyst, to discuss his evaluation of Jones’s roadside assistance call.  The call was played numerous times during the hearing and the below is what can be heard between the Defendant and Jones.”

Jones: “Huh?”

Jones: “No, I’m good. Yeah, I’m good.”

Defendant: “Really?”

Jones: “Yeah.”

Defendant: “Get your fuckin’ hands up! Get your fuckin’ hands up!”

Jones: “Hold on”

Defendant: “Get your fuckin’ hands up! Drop.”

(Three gunshots heard)

(Car door open bell heard)

Defendant: “Drop it!”

(Three gunshots heard)

(Car door open bell heard)

The judge goes on to describe that Piazza testified that something was said before Corey Jones said “Huh?” and it could have been Raja identifying himself as a police officer.  The judge found;

“. . . , any argument regarding whether Defendant identified himself as a police officer as he approached Jones is moot, since the first discernible word on the call was Jones saying “huh?” It is common sense that in saying “huh,” Jones did not hear what was, if anything, specifically said to him that evening.”

The judge denied Raja immunity, ruling that Raja’s sworn statement of testimony was unreliable and not credible because it was inconsistent with the physical evidence.  The inconsistencies are pointed out, beginning with page 20 of the decision.

On June 20, 2018, Raja’s attorney, Richard Lubin, filed an appeal of judge Feuer’s decision. The appeal will delay the trial’s official start date, which had been planned for July 16, 2018.  This also further delays a wrongful death civil lawsuit filed in July 2016 by Corey Jones’ Estate.  The civil lawsuit alleges that in Raja’s previous job as an Atlantis police officer, that his record shows a “propensity to use excessive force against citizens” and interjected himself in situations beyond his lawful authority to resolve matters not related to himself. Raja had at least 14 use-of-force incidents in two years.  The wrongful death civil lawsuit has been stayed by the court until after Raja’s criminal trial.

Below are videos of the 2 day Stand Your Ground hearing.  You will need to click the message that appears in order to watch the videos on Youtube.  They will open in another tab or window, depending on your browser setting.

Stand Your Ground Hearing

Day 1 – Part 1

 

Day 1 – Part 2

 

Day 1 – Part 3

 

Day 1 – Part 4

 

Day 1 – Part 5

 

Day 1 – Part 6

 

Day 2 – Part 1

 

Day 2 – Part 2

 

Day 2 – Part 3

 

Day 2 – Part 4

 

Day 2 – Part 5 (Medical Examiner)

 

Posted on 06/25/2018, in Cases, Corey Jones and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. This is great news. He’d be getting the Betty Shelby treatment. I hope Raja’s convicted of all charges. He is unfit to be a police officer. I believe Raja would’ve been placed on paid leave instead of fired had he been White.

    Like

    • The Warner,
      Raja was terminated because he was still on probation when he killed Corey. Other than that, he would have been able to challenge his termination and the union would have supported him.

      The evidence is strong to convict Raja. If and when he goes to trial, even a prejudicial White jury might convict him because they would not want an Asian patrolling their streets where they might suffer reverse racism.

      Like

    • The Warner,
      Raja was terminated because he was still on probation when he killed Corey. Other than that, he would have been able to challenge his termination and the union would have supported him.

      The evidence is strong to convict Raja. If and when he goes to trial, even a prejudicial White jury might convict him because they would not want an Asian patrolling their streets where they might suffer reverse racism.

      Like

  2. *Correction – If he were a White officer he’d get the Betty Shelby treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. crustyolemothman

    Dear Xena’

    The whole concept of the “stand your ground” defense is at best absurd. The very idea that to murder a person all you have to prove is that you feared for your life, is flawed by the concept that you had no other alternative means of defense. What ever happened to the time tested idea of retreating to save you life? The human concept, much like other animals, of “fight or flight” has been around since the beginning of recorded history, and why has the second part of the concept suddenly become non acceptable?

    I am awaiting the time that some attorney will attempt to use the “stand your ground” defense to save his client in a case involving a shoot out with police where several of them died. Can anyone argue that person was not in fear for his life when he returned fire from the actions of the police? Not saying that it would be a valid argument, just saying that it is no more ridiculous than some of the cases we have already seen reach the legal process.

    Time to toss the stand your ground laws and go back to the basic tenets of the law where you are charged, tried and judged upon your actual acts, instead of having a legal way to escape justice…

    Like

    • Mothman,
      Yes! In my opinion, stand your ground is a law that gives power to ego.

      What you say about attempt to use stand your ground in defense to save a client involved in a shoot out, is comparable to this case in the sense that Raja tried using the defense that he introduced himself to Corey as a police officer. Citizens are not suppose to draw weapons on police officers. Only in this case, the recorded phone call to AT&T contradicts Raja’s claim.

      Had Corey not been on the phone at the time, and that call being recorded, Raja might not have been charged. It would have been his word alone.

      Most states have always had justifiable homicide laws. The no need to retreat in stand your ground law, at least in Florida, has not been applied equally. I think of Trevor Dooley who was walking away when physically tackled. There are folks who argued that Trevor showed his gun. Fine! Then charge him appropriately for that, but not with murder when he was physically tackled while retreating.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. * shakes head * Damn, these cops never learn. Their dumbness costs a human’s life. If they’re so afraid of something like this, why become a cop, in the first place ? Stand your ground…. pffft. That’s a coward’s way out of a situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ren,
      When considering that there is law enforcement in other countries who do not carry guns, the only reason that LE in the U.S. does is because of citizens having guns. Then, citizens having guns becomes the justification for killing them, even when they are unarmed, or like in this case, the safety is not disengaged and the gun never fired.

      There’s lots of innocent blood in the ground of America.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My mom always warns my brother to FREEZE, not to talk, be polite , in case he’s pulled over for traffic violation. My brother’s male, brown… a minority…. and looks Mexican. Apparently, Asian looking folks don’t get shot. I hope my brother looks Asian enough. It has come to this , Xena. It shouldn’t be like this…. I really hated what happened to the 2 African -American guys that got arrested at Starbucks. Even the other customers who were there were outraged. Starbucks should compensate these two for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Did they sue, do you know?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Ren,
          Your mom gave your brother good advice. Sadly, that doesn’t always work for POC. Remember the man who was told to get his license and registration, and when he reached for it, the cop shot him?

          Asians do get shot. Here is a link to just one case that I blogged about, and there are more. By the way, the cop in that case was found “justified” although the video shows he had his gun in his hand when exiting his vehicle. He said that Saif tried to take his gun from its holster.

          Re: Starbucks settled. The men made an arrangement to pay it forward. Starbucks agreed to set up a $200,000 fund for entrepreneurs.

          We strive on in faith, hope and love.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Raja better get convicted of all counts. If that one Black woman who was denied Stand Your Ground for firing a gun at her own house instead of her target yet still getting a 20 year sentence, then it should be denied for him, too. Stand Your Ground is such a fallacious law that excuses murderers for their actions.

    Like

    • Ospreyshire,
      It depends on the jury, the jury instructions, and the way prosecutors present the case. I’ve seen too many trials where video and all evidence should lead to a conviction, but the jury hangs or acquits. That’s usually because the defendant testifies what he/she thought or felt and the defense brings in a witness who tells the jury that the officer acted based on training.

      Last week, I read about the verdict in a civil case involving the Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo who killed Quintonio LeGrier and a by-stander. The city settled with the family of the by-stander but Rialmo went to trial. The jury awarded $1.05 million in damages to Quintonio’s family, but the judge overturned it based on an answer to a jury interrogatory. The jury’s foreman said they were “hoodwinked”.

      The system is not properly working, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This system is either way too broken or works too well if corruption was the intent the whole time. These situations anger me because they would never do this to anyone of the dominant society. Perhaps, they believe that if a conviction does occur then it could set a precedent where so many cops, DAs, and other personnel will end up in the pen. Then again, I didn’t see any Blue Lives Matter issues when it came to Mohammed Noor or those officers in Louisiana who shot that 6 year old after trying to get that kid’s criminal Dad.

        Like

        • Ospreshire,
          Each juror is an individual, and they bring their own biases with them. There are some jurors who really don’t want to concentrate and put time into deliberations because they want to go back to their normal lives. When it comes to convicting officers, there are some jurors who fear doing so can lead to them and/or their families being harassed by the police. Others never see where an officer can be wrong when it concerns people who don’t look or think like them. Citizens, even if mentally ill, intoxicated, hearing impaired, or in wheel chairs, or expected to behave like robots. A good thing about the judge in this case is that she realized that by Corey saying “Uh?” meant that he didn’t hear what was being said to him.

          Re: the Louisiana case. Little Jeremy Mardis. It tore my heart when I heard about that case. I followed it on this blog. There are cases where Black officer are acquitted, such as the officer who killed 95-year old John Wrana. However, there does seem to be a pattern where Black officers are charged and convicted more than White officers, and officers who kill those who are developmentally disabled are acquitted or not charged, such as the deputies that killed Ethan Saylor.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, and I’m certainly aware of that. I certainly believe jurors just want to get things over with and they could be scared that the cops could bully them, family, and friends if they decide to convict the suspects in blue in these situations.

            Let me be clear that Jeremy Mardis didn’t deserve to die. I hope not to have came across that way and I do apologize. I wasn’t aware of the John Wrana situation which I feel a bit ashamed about it since this happened in my home state. It’s not surprising whenever I see/hear other Black people say “Oh, this officer is going to be jailed” whenever a Black cop kills someone White like those cases and the Mohammed Noor situation was a double whammy since he’s Somali-American…Black AND part of a Muslim-Majority ethnic group. Not to sound partisan, but it was so obvious when GOP politicians screamed “police brutality” once they heard about that case where they would never proclaim that in most other cases.

            Like

            • Ospreyshire,
              I’m sorry if I gave the impression that you thought Jeremy Mardis deserved to die. There was no intention from me to give that impression. I apologize.

              I have not been able to find a scheduled trial date for Mohammed Noor and do plan on following his trial. You’re right — it involves politics, religion and race.

              By the way, there was another case involving two Black, East Point, Georgia police officers. Both were found guilty. There have been recent incidents in or around East Point, Georgia of police involved killings. It’s a wait and see situation for if there will be any charges and if so, what the verdicts will be.

              Liked by 1 person

            • No need to apologize. I just wanted to make myself clear. That’s all.

              I know the trial hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll definitely see what happens. There’s obviously the issue with those three things, and I don’t see how anyone can ignore that.

              Thanks for letting me know about case.

              Like

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