On the four-month anniversary of Corey Jones' death, his friends have reported on social media that a memorial made in his honor has been vandalized and burned. It is located on Interstate 95 and PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, where Jones was fatally shot by a Palm Beach Gardens Police officer on October 18. The memorial was created shortly after his death with signs, photos, flowers, and Jones' childhood stuffed animals.
“My first reaction was whoever did this did not know Corey,” says Jones' friend and bandmate Boris Simeonov. “Whoever did this did not understand the kind of person Corey was. He was the kindest, funniest, most respectable person I know.”
Simeonov has not yet visited the site but confirms that the memorial was vandalized some time on Thursday. On social media, reactions were mixed to the news — some were upset, others saddened. One person had agreed to return to the site and try to rebuild it.
The Florida Highway Patrol had no information regarding a fire. The Palm Beach Gardens Fire-Rescue referred New Times to a clerk who did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
“I can't speak for the family, but they're kind, warm, loving people,” Simeonov says. “I'm sure they're upset.”
In a photo of the memorial posted on early Thursday morning, there are rows of stuffed animals, a poster, and flowers at the site. A photo posted on Facebook a few hours later shows a burnt tree covered in ash. A few stuffed animals are untouched to the side.
Four months ago, Corey Jones was driving home from a show when his car broke down on I-95 and PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens. In an unmarked vehicle, Palm Beach Gardens Officer Nouman Raja went to check on what he thought was an abandoned vehicle. It's unclear what happened next (Raja's van didn't have a dashboard cam, and he was not wearing a body camera), but there was some sort of misunderstanding. Jones' body was shot three times and found 80 feet from the car.
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Friends and family say it is possible that Jones didn't know Raja was an officer when he confronted him. In November, Raja was dismissed from the force.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office is investigating Jones' death.
Simeonov hopes that his friend's death will reform law enforcement and make them more accountable by wearing body cameras. So far, Simeonov says, police officers have been supportive of the efforts to make police more accountable. Ultimately, he believes the state should bring criminal charges against Raja.
“We have to make a wrong right,” Simeonov says. “We can never bring Corey back, but we want to see that law enforcement takes a bigger interest in protecting its people.”