A city in Florida reached a $2m settlement with the family of a Black man who was shot and killed by police after his vehicle broke down near a freeway off-ramp in 2015.
“We remain sorrowful that the criminal actions of Officer Raja led to the senseless death of Corey Jones,” Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Chelsea Reed said in a statement. “Although we cannot undo this tragic loss, it is our sincere hope that this settlement will aid in the continued healing of the family and our communities.”
Mr Jones, a 31-year-old housing inspector and drummer in a reggae band, was returning to his home in Palm Beach Gardens after a gig on 18 October, 2015, when he experienced car trouble and had to pull over.
Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja — while dressed in plainclothes — spotted Mr Jones' SUV sitting near an interstate off-ramp and approached it by driving up an on-ramp. Mr Raja was wearing a t-shit, jeans, and a baseball cap when he — in an unmarked car — moved to investigate Mr Jones' vehicle.
Mr Raja's police supervisor testified that he had instructed the officer to put a police vest on over his plainclothes when interacting with the public.
Mr Jones had received his conceal carry permit and kept a handgun on his person in order to protect the $10,000 drum set that he transported from gig to gig. A confrontation ensued between the off-duty officer and Mr Jones, leaving the latter dead.
Mr Raja told investigators that Mr Jones pulled a gun on him when he approached the SUV, and said he fired in self defence.
However, an audio recording that captured the men's interactions revealed Mr Raja acting aggressively toward Mr Jones. Further, Mr Raja had not presented Mr Jones with his badge to identify himself as an officer.
After Mr Raja was charged with manslaughter and attempted murder, the audio evidence was presented to jurors. They ultimately decided it was Mr Raja, not Mr Jones, who escalated the situation toward violence.
Mr Raja was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.