Benjamin Crump, a high-profile civil rights attorney at the Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump, is representing the family of a fatal officer-involved shooting that took place early Sunday morning in South Florida.
According to sun-sentinel.com. Corey Jones can be added to the list of African-American men killed by police.
Jones, a 31-year-old Palm Beach native and cousin of Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication advisor Ruthie White, was shot and killed on I-95 by Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja at approximately 3:15 a.m. on Sunday, according to a Palm Beach Gardens Police statement.
Jones and his band had finished a gig at Ocean’s Bar and Grill and he was on his way home, according to PalmBeachPost.com. Jones was having car trouble and called his bandmate and friend, Matthew Huntsberger, to help him with his car. Huntsberger was the last person to see Jones, he told Palm Beach Post.
When Jones called AT&T roadside assistance around 2:30 a.m., Huntsberger left.
Raja was in plain clothes and in an unmarked police vehicle while working as a part of a detail related to a string of burglaries in the city, according to his statement. Raja stopped on the southbound exit ramp of I-95 and PGA Boulevard at Jones’ car, thinking it was abandoned.
“As the officer exited the vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones,” Officer Stephen Stepp said in the statement. No dash cam was installed in Raja’s vehicle.
According to the statement, a handgun, along with the box it was purchased in, was recovered at the scene. The box was found inside Jones’ vehicle and the handgun was found on the ground outside the vehicle. Jones purchased the handgun just three days before the shooting, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Crump told CNN the family believes Jones didn’t know Raja was an officer.
“Apparently this plainclothes police officer in an unmarked van at 3 a.m. approaches him. He doesn’t know if this is a police officer or not. His family believes he went to his grave not knowing who this person was,” Crump told CNN.
Some people are questioning Raja’s credibility. The New York Times said Raja neglected to disclose on his job application that he had been reprimanded at his last police job when “his supervisor discovered that he was still in possession of morphine pills that he had seized from a case.”
Raja had been working with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department since April 2015, according to the statement.
“The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is conducting this investigation, therefore our knowledge of the exact circumstances surrounding the incident are limited,” Stepp said.
Raja has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation of the shooting.
Crump has attained international acclaim for his role representing the family of the late Trayvon Martin, among others. Crump is also representing the family of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer last year in the St. Louis suburb, Ferguson.