WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The fate of a fired Palm Beach Gardens police officer charged with fatally shooting a stranded black motorist is now before a jury.
Closing arguments began Wednesday in the manslaughter and attempted murder trial of Nouman Raja for the fatal October 2015 shooting of 32-year-old Corey Jones.
Raja was in plain clothes and driving an unmarked white van when he drove the wrong way up a darkened off ramp to Jones's stalled SUV.
Prosecutors say an audio recording shows Raja never identified himself and approached Jones aggressively, making him believe he was being robbed. They say that caused Jones to pull his legally possessed handgun. Raja then shot him repeatedly.
Raja's attorneys say he identified himself and justifiably shot Jones because he feared for his life.
Prosecutor Adrienne Ellis opened closing arguments with a picture of Jones.
She told jurors that Raja was the aggressor in the 3 a.m. encounter with Jones off Interstate 95 in 2015.
Ellis replayed the roadside assistance call to let jurors listen to Jones saying "hold on" when Raja told him to get his hands up.
She said the evidence is inconsistent with Raja’s account of what happened which is that Jones jumped back and pointed a gun at him above his car door.
Defense attorney Richard Lubin told the jury that while the death was a tragedy, no crime was committed.
Lubin said in his closing arguments that Raja shot Jones in October 2015 because Jones pointed a gun at him. Lubin said that act gave Raja the right to open fire to save his own life.
The judge sent six of the 10 jurors to deliberate. Four alternates were dismissed.
After jurors got the case they asked to once again watch the video walk-through Raja gave investigators hours after the shooting, crime-scene video and to listen to audio played during the trial.
The jury has ended deliberations for the day and will resume at 8 a.m. Thursday.
If convicted, Raja faces a possible life sentence.
WPTV's Michelle Quesada contributed to this report.