Former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja on Thursday, March 7, was found guilty of killing Corey Jones, a young Black musician whose car broke down and was on the phone arranging a tow for his car.
Raja will be sentenced April 26 after an all-white jury agreed that he had used excessive force three years ago against Jones. At sentencing, Raja faces up to 25 years or life in prison.
Corey’s family has been waiting for justice for about three years. Weary family and friends had been in the Palm Beach County court room for over a week. Justice Joseph Marx presided over the case.
The prosecuting team emerged with Jones’ family right after the jury decision convening on the courthouse steps. Family members were crying and cheering at the same time.
“We are just so grateful, the jury sought through all the things that were going on,” said Sheila Banks, Jones’ aunt. “They reviewed the evidence. They reviewed the video. They heard the audio. They found the truth…Truth was revealed.”
Jones was killed on an Interstate 95 ramp, within the city limits of Palm Beach Gardens. The city issued a statement Thursday:
“Our hearts go out to all of those who have and will continue to deal with the damaging effects of the tragic death of Corey Jones. This tragedy has impacted everyone from the families to our local community, and beyond. We hope this verdict will allow all of those involved to begin the process of healing.”
Prosecutors charged Raja with manslaughter because they believed his actions created the confrontation and showed “culpable negligence,” meaning a “reckless disregard” or “conscious indifference” for Jones’ life. They charged him with attempted first-degree murder because they believed that while they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt which of the six shots killed him, the second volley was a conscious effort to kill Jones as he ran away.
Adrienne Ellis, another member of the team who had prosecuted Raja, said in an emotionally choked voice, that she was glad some form of justice had been rendered.
“I’m speechless,” said Ellis. “I’m just grateful and thank God for the jury’s verdict.”
Alexcia Cox, also a part of the team, said she was thankful for the jury’s decision and that she also felt justice had been served, and it didn’t matter your background or how much you had. Justice was justice, said Cox.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.