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Black Church Musician Shot by Police Officer Was a 'God-Fearing Man Who Dedicated His Life to Doing the Right Thing'

A church musician who was shot dead by a plainclothes police officer on a highway exit ramp in Florida at the weekend was carrying a gun bought days ago, police said on Tuesday.
Corey Jones WPTV

A church musician who was shot dead by a plainclothes police officer on a highway exit ramp in Florida at the weekend was carrying a gun bought days ago, police said on Tuesday.

Police officer Nouman Raja was on duty when he stopped his unmarked police vehicle in the early hours of Sunday to investigate what he thought was an abandoned car, Palm Beach Gardens police chief Stephen Stepp told a press conference.

"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject," Stepp said in a statement read to reporters.

"As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm," Stepp said, killing Corey Jones, 31, a professional drummer.

Jones was black. Raja's race was not immediately known.

Stepp said a hand gun was found on the ground which Jones had bought three days earlier. The weapon's serial number matched a box it was purchased in that was found in Jones' car, he said.

Raja, who was investigating a string of burglaries when the incident occurred, has been put on paid administrative leave, Stepp said. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is conducting an independent investigation into the shooting, he added.

There were no police records showing complaints, disciplinary actions or internal affairs investigations against Raja, he added.

Jones was returning from a gig early on Sunday morning when his car broke down, according to media reports. Friends said he played drums in several bands and churches in the area and worked for a local housing authority.

Jones' family has hired high-profile law firm Parks & Crump, which represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old high school student who was shot and killed in central Florida by night watchman George Zimmerman in 2012.

"Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing," his family said in a statement.

"He was gentleman, went to school, worked hard, played football," said his uncle Kenneth Banks.

A childhood friend, National Football League player Vince Wilfork, tweeted, "I've never known him to be anything other than a good dude and stand up guy."

Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association president, John Kazanjian, scolded the department for not addressing the public sooner on the death of Jones. He said officers had received death threats following the shooting.

 

(Reporting by David Adams and Zachary Fagenson in Miami; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Grant McCool)