The former police officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Corey Jones in 2015 lied about the events surrounding Jones’ death, newly uncovered evidence shows.
On Oct. 18, 2015, at around 3:00 in the morning, Jones’ SUV broke down in Palm Beach Gardens. Jones, 31, was a well-known drummer for his church band and had been returning home from a gig. As he waited for a tow, Nouman Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., police officer, approached him in plainclothes and an unmarked van.
Raja alleged at the time that he offered to help Jones but was “confronted by an armed suspect” when he exited his vehicle. After a confrontation, Raja said he fired at Jones three times. Jones refused to drop his weapon, and after calling 911, Raja fired a second round of shots, he claimed.
However, audio from the night of the shooting that Raja did not know existed contradicts his story.
“The audio recording from the call reveals Raja lied when he said he made his 911 call before he fired his second volley of shots,” according to a 60-page report from the State Attorney’s Office.
Jones had been on the phone with AT&T Roadside Assistance when Raja approached him. The conversation was recorded, and the newly released audio reveals the conversation that actually took place between Raja and Jones.
Raja alleged that he immediately identified himself as an officer and said to Jones, “Police, how can I help you”
But, according to the audio, Raja simply says to Jones, “You good”
Jones, who was already outside his vehicle at the time, replies, “Yeah.”
“Really” Raja asks, to which Jones again answers in the affirmative. But Raja becomes confrontational, repeatedly saying to Jones, “Get your f*****g hands up! Get your f*****g hands up!”
“Hold on!” Jones yells. But Raja fires the first round of shots. The operator with AT&T says, “Oh my gosh.” Seconds later, an additional three shots are fired.
Raja has been on house arrest since June and was fired from the department several weeks after Jones’ death. He is charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, which carries a possible life sentence in prison.
Mark Anderson, an investigator with the state attorney’s office, in the report called Raja’s response “sarcastic and confrontational.”
“It was obviously not a sincere offer of help,” he wrote. “More importantly, the recording reveals Raja never identified himself to be a police officer.”
Raja did not call 911 for at least 30 seconds after firing both rounds of shots. On the 911 recording he is heard saying, “Drop the gun!” However, prosecutors believe Jones was already dead when Raja called 911 he was pretending the confrontation was still going on.
Raja insisted that he saw Jones with a gun, which is why he had to fire his weapon. Investigators at the scene found Jones’ gun 80 feet from his body.
The gun in Jones’ possession was purchased legally, according to police. Jones’ family has said Jones had a gun to protect himself because he often carried expensive musical instruments and equipment, and he may have thought to defend himself when Raja out of uniform and in a suspicious van approached him on the side of the road.Lawyers for Jones’ family have said from the beginning that Raja never identified himself as a police officer nor displayed his badge before shooting Jones.
Jones’ brother believed from the start that Raja was lying about the sequence of events, the Palm Beach Post reported.
“I listened to every single second of the audio and video and it was pretty crazy to hear my brother’s last words basically crying out for help and a police officer was the one that killed him,” Clinton “C.J.” Jones said. “It doesn’t make any sense. He really is a stupid, selfish, savage, no heart human being to kill Corey Jones.”