The Corey Jones Act of 2016

Posted at 8:58 AM, Jan 09, 2016
and last updated 2019-03-07 09:44:55-05

On Friday, four area U.S. congressional representatives introduced the Corey Jones Act of 2016. Corey Jones, a 31-year-old Boynton Beach man and popular local drummer, was shot and killed by now-former Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja in the early-morning hours of October 18, 2015 after his vehicle broke down on the I-95 southbound off-ramp at PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens.

Jones was returning from a music gig in Jupiter with his band, Future Prezidents. While waiting for a tow truck, Jones was approached by Officer Raja in plainclothes, driving an unmarked, 15-passenger van with tinted windows. A gun owned by Jones was recovered from the scene, but after speaking privately with Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, attorneys representing the family say he never fired it. Family members have said Jones only owned a gun for his personal protection while traveling late at night with expensive music equipment.

Raja was not wearing a body camera and footage of the shooting has not surfaced. In November, Raja was fired from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. An investigation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, and the FBI is ongoing.

The bill sponsored by U.S. Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Ted Deutch (FL-21), Lois Frankel (FL-22), and Patrick Murphy (FL-18) is intended to “prohibit plainclothes officers from engaging in routine traffic stops in unmarked vehicles.” If adopted, the Corey Jones Act would only allow the award of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to police departments that institute and enforce such policy.

Thursday night, nearly three months after the fatal shooting, Palm Beach Gardens city council voted unanimously to approve funding for the purchase of body cameras for the entire Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.

Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp hopes to fully implement the cameras by this summer at an estimated cost of $262,296.

“This common-sense legislation will help keep both law enforcement and the citizens they police safe,” Rep Hastings, the lead sponsor of the Corey Jones Act, said in a release. “Tragic incidents like the death of Corey Jones can easily be avoided by prohibiting plain-clothes law enforcement officials driving unmarked vehicles from making traffic stops. These situations lead to confusion and even confrontation.”

“After the heartbreaking death of Corey Jones last fall, I joined our entire community in not only mourning his loss but also looking at what could be done to prevent such tragedies in the future," Rep. Murphy added. “We honor Corey’s memory by taking actions such as these to increase public safety and improve trust between law enforcement and their communities.”

“Last fall, I joined our entire South Florida community in mourning the loss of Corey Jones, a talented musician and dear friend to many,” said Rep. Frankel. “It’s our hope that this bill, which bears Corey’s name, will help prevent another tragedy and better the relationship between police officers and the citizens they serve.”