Family demands answers in police killing of Florida musician

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2015 11:11 AM

MIAMI (Reuters) - The family of a church musician who was fatally shot by a plain-clothes police officer in Florida over the weekend is urging police to release surveillance video from street cameras, family attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN on Wednesday.

Corey Jones, 31, was waiting for a tow truck on the side of a road at 3 a.m. on Sunday after his car broke down when a Palm Beach Gardens officer in an unmarked van approached him, Crump said.

"What he needed from the police was a helping hand and all he got was bullets," Crump said.

"This is a situation that cries out for answers, it cries out for transparency, it cries out for the police to give this family information," he added.

Palm Beach Gardens police have requested an "independent" investigation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Crump said the police officer, identified as Nouman Raja, did not appear to have followed regulations.

The officer did not call for backup or advise his department that he was going to approach the vehicle, Crump said, suggesting Jones may have had no idea Raja was a police officer.

"His family believes he went to his grave not knowing who this person was," added Crump, a high-profile Florida lawyer who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed high school student who was killed in 2012 by a volunteer night watchman in Florida.

Palm Beach Gardens police say Raja shot Jones when he stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned car and was confronted by an armed subject.

Jones, a professional drummer, was black. The race of Raja, 38, was not immediately known.

Police say a handgun found at the scene was purchased by Jones three days earlier. Jones' family confirmed he bought it for protection, Crump said.

Raja was on duty at the time of the shooting, police say, investigating a string of burglaries in Palm Beach Gardens, a wealthy city of gated communities a few miles north of Palm Beach.

Crump urged police to release any surveillance video they may have.

"We don't know how many times he was shot. We don't know whether he was shot in the back," the lawyer said.

Crump described Jones as a God-fearing man who was inspirational to those he came in contact with. Friends said he played drums in several bands and churches in the area and worked for a local housing authority.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and David Adams and Zachary Ferguson in Miami; Editing by Paul Simao)