Nouman Raja, police officer involved in Corey Jones’ death, appears in court

June 2, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Nouman Raja, a police officer accused of killing an African man, has been arrested and charged. Raja, a member of the Palm Beach Gardens police department in Florida, appeared in front of a judge where he pleaded no guilty.

police officer Nouman Raja

Nouman Raja, a police officer charged with the death of a black man, has pleaded not guilty and has the full support of his colleagues.

On Wednesday, just hours after his arrest and being charged with manslaughter and attempted murder of Corey Jones by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Raja showed up in court. Mr. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens Police officer, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was held on a $250,000, bond.

He will be released today, but will be under house arrest and has to wear an ankle bracelet and be monitored by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Raja has been ordered to turn in his passport, weapons, and is not authorized to contact the officers from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office or Jones’ family.

On October 18, Jones, who was a drummer, was forced to call a tow truck operator after his SUV had broken down on an Interstate 95 off-ramp before dawn as he returned home from a performance. While Jones was talking to the operator the following occurred, according to court documents:

” Raja, who is of South Asian descent, pulled up the ramp from the wrong direction and parked in front of Jones’ SUV. Raja, who was investigating a string of auto burglaries, was driving an unmarked cargo van with no police lights and was in civilian clothes: a tan T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap. Raja did not wear his tactical vest that has police markings while on this assignment for his own safety and to identify himself.”

The tow truck operator recorded the following events:

“…as Jones was talking, the door chimes from Jones’ SUV sounded, indicating he stepped out as Raja approached. Raja repeatedly asks variations of “You good?” to which Jones repeatedly replies that he is. Raja never says he is a police officer. Suddenly, the officer shouts, using an expletive, for Jones to put his hands up. Jones replies: “Hold on!” And Raja repeats his demand. Raja then fired three shots in less than two seconds. Ten seconds of silence then pass before three more shots, each fired about a second apart, are heard. Immediately after the shooting, Raja used his personal cellphone to call 911. As the operator answered 33 seconds after the last shot was fired, Raja yelled at someone to drop the gun.”

Jones’ autopsy showed a bullet had pierced his heart and lungs and went down almost immediately. Aronberg said that the shooting was unjustified and that Raja lied to a 911 operator to make it appear that Jones was still armed and a threat more than 30 seconds after the officer’s bullets had felled him. Documents confirmed:

“When Raja’s sergeant and other officers arrived, they found Jones’ body between some trees almost 200 feet from the back of his SUV. A police dog found Jones’ gun about 75 feet from his SUV, near where Raja told his sergeant he had seen Jones throw it. The safety was on and it had fired no shots.”

If convicted, Raja could face life in prison. In a press conference, John Kazanjian, a representative with the Police Benevolent Association, defended Nouman Raja by saying:

“We will vigorously defend each charge. The PBA stands firmly behind him with full support,” said John Kazanjian of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. Officer Raja identified himself as a police officer before approaching the vehicle. We’re just disappointed in the state attorney’s office. This is just a tragedy on both sides. It’s broken two families. I know right now they want justice, but right now I feel that Nouman Raja was doing his job that night.”

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