Former Florida Police Officer on Trial for Killing Black Motorist

The trial of a former Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., police officer that shot and killed a Black motorist began this week. Nouman Raja is being charged with manslaughter, attempted murder and facing a possible life sentence.

Corey Jones’ van broke down around 3 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015 while he was on his way home from a performance with his band. Jones was on the phone with his brother, C.J. Jones, a former NFL player, when he decided to wait for a tow truck instead of having his brother come to pick him up. That would be the last time that C.J. Jones would speak to his brother.

About 15 minutes after that phone conversation, Raja, dressed in plainclothes and driving an unmarked van, goes the wrong way up the on-ramp and blocks Jones’ SUV. Little did Raja know Jones was on the phone with the tow company – a recorded call. That call completely contradicted Raja’s claims that Jones pulled his gun knowing that Raja was a police officer.

The recording, played Tuesday in court, proved that Raja never announced himself as a police officer and that Raja tried to mislead investigators by calling 911 after he had already shot Jones for the last time but continuing to yell orders to drop the gun.

The fatal bullet hit Jones in the back as he was trying to run away. Jones’ body was found 200 feet from the SUV and 125 feet from his unfired gun, which he legally owned and had bought just a few days before.

Palm Beach Gardens fired Raja. He was charged in 2016 and has been under house arrest.

Few police officers ever face trial for shooting deaths, let alone actually get convicted. Lamar Smith, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Sylville Smith, Freddie Gray, Samuel DuBose, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Alton Sterling — just a few names of Black men shot and killed by police officers that were either acquitted or found not guilty.

A study from Bowling Green State University showed that there are about 1,000 police shootings each year in the United States and between 2005 and April 2017, 80 officers had been arrested on murder or manslaughter charges for on-duty shootings. During that 12-year span, 35% were convicted. The rest were pending or not convicted.

On top of that, Black men are nearly three times as likely to be killed by police force than white men, according to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2016.

A second study found that in police-related deaths from 2010 to 2014, white men accounted for the largest number of deaths but Black men were 2.8 times and Hispanic men were 1.7 times more likely to be killed be police force than white men. ​


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