Relaymedia

What Happened to Christian Musician Corey Jones? Family Demands Answers After Florida Plainclothes Officer Kills Church Drummer

( [email protected] ) Oct 22, 2015 03:12 PM EDT
The grieving family of Corey Jones, a professional drummer and church musician who was shot and killed by a plainclothes police officer last weekend, is asking for the release of any surveillance videos of the incident.
A gathering in memory of Corey Jones was held at Bible Church of God in Boynton Beach Monday, October 19, 2015. The 31-year-old drummer was killed by a police officer in Palm Beach Gardens. Palm Beach Post

The grieving family of Corey Jones, a professional drummer and church musician who was shot and killed by a plainclothes police officer last weekend, is asking for the release of any surveillance videos of the incident.

According to a report from Reuters, Jones was driving home after a performance with his church band in South Florida when his car broke down in the Palm Beach Gardens area. After a failed jumpstart, Jones was waiting for a tow-truck to arrive.

Officer Nouman Raja of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, who was investigating a string of local burglaries in an unmarked police car and out of uniform, reportedly approached Jones' car thinking it was abandoned when a confrontation occurred.

The confrontation ended with the fatal shooting of Jones, but little or no information is known. The plainclothes officer reportedly fired six shots, three of which hit Jones -- including one that struck his aorta -- his attorneys have said.

"We believe Corey went to his grave not knowing if this was a real cop or not," said Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney who has agreed to represent the family said, Reuters reports.

"What he needed from the police was a helping hand, and all he got was bullets...This is a situation that cries out for answers, it cries out for transparency, it cries out for the police to give this family information," he added.

Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp told the Associated Press that Officer Raja was "suddenly confronted by an armed subject." Investigators found a handgun on the ground that is believed to have been owned by Jones. Jones's family says that he had purchased the gun three days before for protection.

However, Crump argues that Raja did not follow proper regulations, as he failed to call for back-up or inform his department that he was approaching the car.

"His family believes he went to his grave not knowing who this person was," Crump told CNN.

Jones was black while Raja is Asian. According to the Christian Science Monitor, both men were respected members of their communities.

Jones reportedly organized a monthly event where musicians from all over South Florida would come to the Bible Church of God to play gospel music and occasional R&B late into the night.

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

"He was incredible," his cousin, Sylvester "Tre" Banks III said Monday. "He could touch you and move you with his music. He made you feel a certain type of way, made you want to do better. He made you want to do good.

Raja had recently joined the Palm Beach Gardens police department in April but had over seven years of experience and a clean police record. He is currently on paid administrative leave as investigators look into the shooting, CNN reports.

Meanwhile, Jones' grieving family is seeking the release of any surveillance footage of the incident from street cameras, as there was no dashboard camera footage of the incident.

"(The family) wants the truth to come out, they want answers, they want justice," Crump said. "And if (Officer Raja) did improper things, if he used excessive force, you want him to be held accountable to the full measure of the law."

Following Jones' death, thousands took to social media to offer their condolences using the hashtags #Justice4Corey and #CoreyJones. On Thursday, hundreds attended a South Florida rally demanding justice for the slain man.

However, Jones' brother C.J. has said that while his family wants answers, they do not want this tragedy to be turned into a racial issue.

"This is not a black thing," C.J. said, noting his own wife is white. "... No disrespect about Black Lives Matter, (but) all lives matter. And my brother had plenty of friends -- white friends, Asian friends, it didn't matter."