Around 3 am on October 18, 2015, Corey Jones was just trying to get home from a gig where he’d been drumming when his car broke down. He had no way of knowing that the call he made to roadside assistance would be the only way his final moments on Earth would be heard.
While he was making the call, Officer Nouman Raja drove up and a few minutes later he called 911 to say that Jones was dead. Did Nouman Raja murder Corey Jones? The AT&T audio recording used to tell Jones’s story says yes, but whether or not it’s going to net a conviction for Raja is still up in the air.
Killer cops are a frightening reality in the world in which we live. In many cases, cops who murdered people walk free because their badges give them the freedom to decide whether or not someone is a threat. In many instances, a body or dash cam can help the public understand the details when a cop kills someone, but there was no body or dash cam in the shooting of Corey Jones, which makes the facts opaque at best.
According to former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, Nouman K. Raja, at about 3 a.m. on Sunday, October 18, 2015, he approached a vehicle that was parked near an I-95 exit ramp in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Dressed in plain clothes and driving an unmarked vehicle, Raja approached Corey Jones, a drummer who was trying to get his brokedown car back to his house.
Raja claims that he was surprised by Jones, who was wielding a silver gun that may have had a laser-sight on top, so he fired on the 31-year-old six times.
Initially, Raja's version of the story was accepted, but soon, it was revealed that he wasn't wearing a body camera or his mandatory tactical vest. Furthermore, his unmarked vehicle wasn't equipped with a dash cam. For these reasons, his version of events quickly became suspect.
Before the recordings of Jones's last moments were recovered, the only story that anyone had was Raja's version of events. He claimed that he approached the vehicle without his protective vest, badge, department-issued handgun or radio - all things that a plainclothes cop is supposed to use in such a situation.
He told investigators: “I didn’t think there was anybody in there. And as I got close to the vehicle, and uh, the door swung open and, uh, this guy jumps outside immediately." He continued, saying that Jones caught him "with [his] pants down." According to Jones, the moment he mentioned that he was a police officer, Jones drew a gun on him—and at that point, it was a do-or-die scenario.
While Raja stuck to his story—that he was blindsided by Jones on the morning of October 18, 2015—a call Jones made to AT&T Roadside Assistance tells a different story. The recording, released on January 17, 2017, revealed that Jones was in his car ordering a tow truck when Raja pulled up and asked what Jones was doing.
Jones, still in his car, said, "I'm good," to which Raja repeatedly asked, "Really?" The officer never identified himself as cop. While that call ended, the story picked up after Jones was already dead. Raja made a 911 call, on which the officer was heard telling Jones to put his gun down. However, this call was made 33 seconds after the officer fired his fatal shots.
According to prosecutors in the case against Raja, he was not only in plain clothes and traveling in an unmarked vehicle, but the officer also never showed his badge when he confronted Jones in his car. The idea was floated that Jones may have thought that Raja was trying to break into his car, which is why he pulled a gun on the officer; however, because of the lack of video evidence, there's no way to know what really happened.
In an interview, a lawyer for the Jones family said that Jones probably thought he was being assaulted by some crazy maniac, saying,
"I believe Corey Jones went to his grave never knowing that that the person who was there was a police officer. The thing that seems reasonable is that he thought he and his car were being vandalized and attacked."