MIAMI (Reuters) - Police in Florida are investigating why a plainclothed police officer shot and killed a church musician who was sitting in his car on a highway exit ramp after it reportedly broke down.
Police officer Nouman Raja fatally shot Corey Jones, 31, early on Sunday, the Palm Beach Gardens police department said in a statement on Facebook, adding that Jones was armed.
Raja was driving an unmarked police vehicle when he stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned car, the statement, posted on Monday, said.
"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject," the statement said.
"As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of the subject," it added.
Raja has been put on paid administrative leave and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is conducting an independent investigation, the statement went on.
Jones was returning from a local gig early on Sunday morning when his car broke down, according to local media. Friends said he played drums in several bands and churches in the area and worked for a local housing authority.
Jones was black. Raja's race was not immediately available.
A childhood friend of Jones', prominent National Football League player Vince Wilfork, tweeted "I've never known him to be anything other than a good dude and stand up guy."
Jones' brother, C.J. Jones, also had a brief NFL career as a wide receiver.
Jones' family has hired high-profile lawyer Ben Crump, local media reported. Crump represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old high school student who was shot and killed in central Florida by night watchman George Zimmerman in 2012.
Palm Beach Gardens police did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday. The police union president said officers had received death threats following the shooting.
Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association president, John Kazanjian, scolded the department for keeping silent on what led to the death of Jones.
“You don’t want another Ferguson where they sat on information for days,” Kazanjian told WPTV on Tuesday, referring to the Missouri city where the 2014 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white officer sparked national protests.
(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Matthew Lewis)