A peaceful protest was held outside City Hall in Palm Beach Gardens on Thursday morning that featured speakers and musicians who had gathered to remember 31-year-old Corey Jones. Jones, a well-known and well-liked local drummer, was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens Police officer on Sunday. Since then, his family, friends, and members of the community have been demanding answers over the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death and what has seemed to be a lack of transparency from the PBGPD.
Corey's shooting death has made national headlines, and the aftermath is being monitored by Black Lives Matter and other social justice protest groups. In the past several days, a lot of information has come out, and a lot has been written.
And now, as an independent investigation into his death has been launched, many questions remain.
Here's everything we know so far on Corey Jones' shooting death and what will happen going forward:
How did Corey die?
Corey was shot and killed by on-duty Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja after the officer spotted Corey's car stopped along the southbound exit ramp of I-95 and PGA Boulevard. Corey's car had stalled out on him.
What are police saying?
According to the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, Raja was driving in an unmarked vehicle, in plainclothes, late Sunday night, around 3:15 a.m. when he stopped to investigate Corey's car. Police say when Raja exited his vehicle, he was "suddenly confronted by an armed subject."
The subject, they say, was Corey Jones. Raja opened fire during the confrontation, killing Jones, according to police.
"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," Palm Beach Gardens Police said. "No additional information at this time."
What is Corey's representation saying?
According to Corey's family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, Corey had been running away from Raja when he was shot and killed.
In a news conference Thursday, Crump said Corey's body was found 80 to 100 feet from his car.
"Corey, at some point, was running away," Crump said.
How many times was Corey shot?
According to Crump, Corey was shot at six times.
Crump also says Corey was shot at his car. He then ran to safety, where he was shot again from behind, the lawyer says.
Who is Officer Nouman Raja?
Raja, 38, has worked for the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department for six months. According to the New York Times, Raja never disclosed to the PBGPD when he applied there that he had been reprimanded at his last job as a cop in Atlantis, Florida, when he failed to turn over morphine he had seized from a suspect.
Raja never wrote a report, nor did he turn in the evidence, according to an Atlantis Police internal affairs file. In a report, Raja said he failed to turn in the morphine due to "work-related issues" and failed to file other reports as well. He was reprimanded but did not say so in his job application, though the PBGPD requires one to do so. He did mention that he was once reprimanded for violating procedures by opening a residential community’s gates before security guards arrived, but he never mentioned the morphine incident.
According to Gossip Extra, Raja worked his off-duty hours for Black Dove Arms. The group apparently markets heavy machine guns and rifles. A social media search revealed that Black Dove Arms has deleted their Twitter account, and taken down their Facebook page. They do have an Instagram account, but it's set to private.
Raja is on administrative leave following Corey's shooting, per standard regulations.
What did Corey see when he saw Raja coming?
We'll never know what was going through Corey's mind the night he was shot, but according to his attorney, what he saw was this:
A man driving up to him in a white van with tinted windows (this was the vehicle Raja — who was on-duty — was driving that night). Corey also saw a man dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap. The man Corey saw did not have his badge out, nor was he wearing a body camera. It's very possible Corey never knew Raja was an officer.
And, according to at least one anonymous source, Raja failed to identify himself as an officer.
Did Corey own a gun?
Corey owned a gun, which he legally purchased three days before he died. He carried a gun because, as a musician, he worked a lot of late-night gigs.
Did he fire at Raja?
The PBGPD news release described the situation as Raja being "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's gun was found at the scene. But police have not said whether he fired his gun.
Crump says that, according to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Corey never fired his weapon that night.
"He never fired his gun," Crump said. "The officer fired six times."
What's going on with the investigation?
A day following the shooting, the PBGPD put out only a news release explaining the shooting. Under the guise of an investigation, it did not release any further information. Corey's family complained through the media that it was not being given much information either. As a result, members of the Legislative Black Caucus called for an independent investigation into the shooting.
On Wednesday, State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced that his office was conducting an independent investigation. The Palm Beach Sheriff's Office is also conducting its own investigation.
"We intend to fulfill our responsibilities of fairness and transparency under the law and to the community," Aronberg said Wednesday.
Gov. Rick Scott's office has offered Aronberg assistance in the investigation.
“If he [Raja] did improper things, if he used excessive force, we want him to be held accountable to the full measure of the law, because they know Corey did not deserve to be killed on the side of a road by somebody who was supposed to protect and serve him while he waited on a tow truck,” Crump said in his news conference Thursday.
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