On a warm Sunday night in October, a Miami-area church musician named Corey Jones broke down on the side of the highway. While waiting for a tow truck, a plainclothes police officer pulled up behind him. Moments later, Corey Jones was dead—with three gunshot wounds in his body.
The how of Mr. Jones death is plainly understood: Officer Nouman K. Raja fired six shots at Jones shortly after being “confronted” by the man he ostensibly stopped to assist. The why remains less clear. According to Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen J. Stepp, Mr. Jones got out of his vehicle with a gun he had purchased three days earlier.
It’s not clear why the officer eventually felt threatened enough to discharge his weapon six times, nor is it clear why he stopped in the first place—it isn’t standard procedure for a plainclothes officer to stop in such a situation.
An internal investigation is ongoing, and Chief Stepp says he’s reluctant to speculate before more facts become clear.
“We are allowing the investigation to determine the facts of this case, rather than speculating or giving out unverified information,” he said.
“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 Mr. Corey Jones.”
Mr. Jones’s family hired civil rights lawyers and family attorneys Benjamin L. Crump and Daryl D. Parks, both of whom have become famous in recent years for their work on the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Jones, an African American, joins the ranks of black men slain by police. Activist movements like #blacklivesmatter have arisen in recent years as a reaction against the frequency minority groups are the victims of violence at the hands of police.
In a statement, the Jones family expressed resolve to determine what led to the church musician’s death, as well as thanked the public for their support.
“Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing,’’ the statement reads. “Rest assured, we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly why this plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car would approach Corey.”
Erica Gordon, a member of the church choir that employed Jones as a drummer, said at his vigil:
“For this to happen to a good person — he is not a thug. He is not what everybody would imagine a black man to be in this judgmental system that we have. He is a good person, and this should have never happened to him.”
Boris Simeonov , the lead singer of the Future Prezidents , the band Mr. Jones played with, stated: “He was really a special human being, a servant of his community. He was an intelligent man, a composed man who never lost his temper, lost his cool or spoke anything negative.”
His death continues to light up social media websites. Users express their solidarity with the Jones family through hashtags like #Justice4Corey and #CoreyJones.