State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Wednesday that former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja has been charged with manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Raja could face life in prison if convicted of the murder charge.
Aronberg said the grand jury found Raja's use of force to be unjustified.
His office also released the probable cause affidavit, which includes some new details, including a transcript of a verbal exchange between Jones and Raja, recorded on a call to AT&T Roadside Assistance:
Corey Jones: "huh?"
Raja: "you good?"
Jones "I'm good"
Jones: yeah I'm good"
Raja: "get your (expletive) hands up! Get your (expletive) hands up.
Jones: "hold on!"
Raja: "get your (expletive) hands up! "Drop!"
Raja then fired three gunshots in rapid succession (within two seconds) immediately after he uttered the word "drop." The call center operator is heard saying, "Oh my gosh!" After about 10 seconds there are three additional shots fired by Raja. According to the PC, this second volley was fired more deliberately, one shot per second.
The document also details that Raja was not wearing anything to identify himself as a police officer, even though his supervisor had instructed him to wear a tactical vest with police markings on it when he worked the surveillance assignment he was on. The vest was on the floor of the unmarked van he was driving when the shooting occurred.
Raja also left his police radio and department issued gun in the van. He shot Jones with his own Glock and called 911 on his personal phone.
The investigation shows that while Jones did have a legal handgun, it was never fired. The PC concludes that since Raja fired at Jones after Raja realized that the other man no longer possessed his gun after tossing it into the grass, "the intent of discharging his firearm was to kill Corey Jones."
The family of Corey Jones released a statement through attorney Benjamin Crump:
"We are relieved to learn that Officer Nouman Raja, who senselessly killed Corey Jones, was arrested earlier today and will face criminal charges for his reckless act. While we understand that nothing can bring back our son, brother and friend, his arrest sends a message that this conduct will not be tolerated from members of law enforcement.
"Our goal now as a family is to ensure that this never happens to another innocent citizen. In spite of this news, our hearts are heavy. We lost a wonderful soul. But rather than focus on the reprehensible actions of owe police officer, today we choose to celebrate Corey's life. A life which he lived to the fullest, every day. We take solace in the outpouring of support from the people who knew Corey best. His spirit will live on through his music and the lives he touched over the years. We will stay vigilant as this process moves forward and peacefully demand greater accountability and transparency from law enforcement."
The city of Palm Beach Gardens released the following statement after the arrest was announced:
The City was informed today of the indictment of Nouman Raja. At this time, we are not aware of what was presented to the grand jury or any specifics of the investigation by three independent entities. We respect the criminal justice process at every level. We expect to make a more detailed statement on this matter in the future. Our thoughts are with the Jones and Banks families today.
Jones was shot and killed by Raja last October on the I-95 off-ramp at PGA Boulevard. Jones was waiting for a tow truck.
On April 27, Aronberg decided to not directly file charges and sent the case to a grand jury.
A bond hearing for Raja will be held at 9 a.m.