Another police killing of a Black man is in the news. This time the victim is Corey Jones, 31, a musician coming home from a late-night gig. The well loved drummer’s car had broken down on the side of the road Sunday night in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He had called a friend and fellow musician to help him out by bringing him engine oil. When the friend arrived and the car still would not start, Jones decided to call AT&T Roadside Assistance. He told his friend to go home while he waited alone on I-95 and PGA Boulevard. At some point after 3 a.m., he was confronted by a plain clothes officer in an unmarked car. The officer claims Jones confronted him and had a weapon. In response, Officer Nouman Raja shot Jones dead.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department issued a statement, which reads:
“PALM BEACH GARDENS POLICE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INTERSTATE 95 AND PGA BLVD.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL –On Sunday, October 18th, 2015, at approximately 3:15am, a Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja, on duty in a plain clothes capacity, in an unmarked police vehicle, stopped to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Blvd. As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of the subject, Corey Jones. Per Department policy the officer is currently on paid administrative leave and an independent investigation is being conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. No additional information at this time.”
Church members knew something was wrong when Jones did not show up for service that morning. He was scheduled to be the lead drummer at his family church. Family friend Benjamin Dixon stated, “He was a church musician … a church man. He was the most laid-back, easygoing guy I’ve ever worked with.”
Some 15 hours later, police notified the family that Jones was dead. All are upset because they have not seen his body. His cousin Ava Wright stated, “We don’t know where his body is, we don’t know what’s going on, all we know is someone knocked on the door and said this has happened, and the family needs some comfort. He never got into any trouble; he was a very good kid.”
Jones’ family and friends stated that they never knew of him handling any firearms; it was not in his character. Jones was not only a musician; he was also an assistant manager of the Delray Beach Housing Authority. According to his supervisor, CEO Dorothy Ellington, Jones was a dedicated employee who had only taken one day of vacation in eight years. In addition, she described him as one of the best, most respectful, compliant employees she had ever had.
The Palm Beach Police Department hasn’t released further information regarding the shooting. Per departmental policy, Raja is on paid administrative leave.