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Tough conversations in the wake of Nouman Raja's guilty verdict

Posted at 4:55 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 19:22:58-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Some difficult conversations are happening in our community, some among men and women in uniform and others among regular citizens.

The guilty verdict for former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja is providing a teaching moment.

Local police departments WPTV reached out to in Palm Beach County did not want to comment about what conversations may be happening in their departments after the verdict.

"To see my son laying there, all shot up, it’s real tough," said Clinton Jones, Sr. at a news conference Thursday.

Jones, Sr. will never see his son, Corey, again. The trial and guilty verdict is on the mind of many, including police officers.

"I have spoken to numerous law enforcement officers last night and today and I think everybody in law enforcement community is talking about this particular case, and it’s interesting because I think everybody is not surprised with respect to the outcome," said Stuart Kaplan, a former FBI agent and an attorney at Kaplan & Parker LLP.

Kaplan has represented families impacted by police involved shootings. He said this case is one that's making police departments think about more training for plainclothes details.

"Maybe we need to revisit the issues with respect to a law enforcement officer operating in plainclothes," said Kaplan. "I mean, keep in mind that when you're in plainclothes, one of the first things you’re trying to do is avoid detection. You’re trying to disguise your identity, and the fact that Nouman Raja took some police action really cuts against why it is that he was in plainclothes to begin with."

Within the community, there’s discussion about how to conduct yourself when you’re approached by an officer.

"There’s an infinite amount of possibilities and this was one that you really can’t practice for anything like that because this was an aggressive way of invading your space and just really just attack," said Patrick Franklin, President of the Urban League of Palm Beach County.

Franklin said after this case, there is another topic that may need to be considered.

"How do we address because maybe a white male with a concealed weapon lawfully versus a black male with a concealed weapon, may be treated in very different ways and perceived in a different way and put into a whole different situation that they will have to both confront differently," said Franklin. "We invite law enforcement to help us with this because that’s the other side of the equation. We know what one side is, community, and what they have and how they are conducting themselves and another thing is how law enforcement is going to interact with them."