The incident took place on Oct. 18, 2015, when around 3:15 a.m. Raja approached a vehicle that he believed was abandoned on the side of Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County. The brief interaction with Jones was recorded on a phone call Jones made seeking roadside assistance.
Jones had a legally purchased handgun on his person and Raja alleged he pointed it at him. However, prosecutors say Mr. Raja fired shots even as Mr. Jones fled. Then within moments of making his approach, Raja fired six shots and struck Mr. Jones three times, killing him.
Corey Jones, 31, was a musician and housing inspector who’s death garnered national attention as one of many killings of Black people by police. The incident also highlighted Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which Raja’s attorney used in his defense according to The New York Times.
“This verdict is a vindication of the good man that was Corey Jones, and an utter repudiation of a criminal who tried to hide behind a badge,” the attorneys for Jones’s family said in a statement.
“We see what can happen when prosecutors have the dedication to charge an on-duty law enforcement officer in the murder of an innocent black man, and what can happen when a thoughtful judge rejects a shameless ploy to use Florida’s questionable Stand Your Ground law as a shield against wrongdoing” the attorneys added.
Attorney Benjamin L. Crump part of a four-person legal team said in an interview on Thursday that after the verdict, Mr. Jones’s extended family went to visit his grave in Boynton Beach, Fla the newspaper reported.
Crump said the guilty verdict against an officer in fatal shooting of Black person was the “first in many years that I am aware of, and I have been doing this for years,” in Florida and around the country. Many officers involved in such shootings, the lawyer noted, are not charged or prosecuted, citing three such cases in Alabama, California, and Louisiana.
“It is not even that they are not held accountable,” Crump said. “They are not even sent to a grand jury.”
After the verdict, David Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, said in an interview that Raja has been taken into custody and will be sentenced on April 26. Raja faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“Hopefully this will provide a measure of justice and closure” for the victim’s family and the community” he added.
Richard G. Lubin, the head of Raja’s defense team, said in a statement that the team was “devastated by the jury’s verdict.”
“We believe in Nouman Raja’s innocence and we will continue to stand behind him as his case is reviewed by the judge and, if necessary, the appellate courts,” the statement said.
“The truth will always prevail” Jones’s father, Clinton Jones Sr., told reporters outside the courthouse, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“Regardless of how many bad cops” there are, he said, “the truth will always prevail.”
“And this is what happened today: It was the truth that convicted him. It was the truth that brought him to justice. It was the truth that sent him to jail. It was the truth — that gave us justice for Corey” Clinton Jones Sr. added.
The City of Palm Beach Gardens said in a statement,“Our hearts go out to all of those who have and will continue to deal with the damaging effects of the tragic death of Corey Jones. This tragedy has impacted everyone from the families to our local community, and beyond.”