The incident happened on October 18, 2015. It appeared to be another case of a Black man on the side of the road being shot down by a cop who claimed that the “suspect” had a gun and he feared for his life. The family of Corey Jones waited more than 3 years for the trial of Nouman Raja, 41. The trial lasted 8 days, and the jury deliberated for 4 hours. The all White jury of 4 men and 2 women convicted Raja of manslaughter by culpable negligence while armed, and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
The manslaughter count is punishable by up to 30 years. The attempted murder count, for the bullets that missed Corey, is punishable by 25 years to life. On April 25, 2019, Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison for both counts, to be served concurrently.
The most interesting evidence in this case was the audio tape of Corey Jones calling for a tow truck. Raja gave a false report that he immediately identified himself as a police officer. Sun-Sentinel reports:
The main reason ex-cop Nouman Raja was found guilty Thursday — let alone even charged in the fatal shooting of stranded motorist Corey Jones — was an extraordinary audio recording.
This case, joining a series of police killings of young black men across the country, turned on the discovery of Jones’ recorded call for a tow truck that early morning of Oct. 18, 2015, on a highway off-ramp.
Played repeatedly in Raja’s eight-day trial, it allowed the jury to hear the tragic 3:15 a.m. encounter between the Palm Beach Gardens police officer and the beloved musician and family man, ending in six gunshots.
Prosecutors said Raja never identified himself as an officer and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja said he first thought the SUV was empty, but then saw Jones inside. 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. Read the rest of this entry
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.
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.