Florida officer fired after fatal shooting of black musician

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2015 2:02 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - The Florida police officer who killed a black amateur musician waiting for help alongside a highway after his car broke down has been fired, but the dead man's family said on Thursday he should still face criminal charges.

Officer Nouman Raja, 38, had been on administrative leave from the Palm Beach Gardens police force following the shooting of Corey Jones on Oct. 18. Jones' death sparked outrage after law enforcement officials revealed the officer was in plainclothes and never showed a badge before shooting the 31-year-old.

The city announced Raja's dismissal on Thursday.

Raja was hired by the police department in the upscale community in April and was still considered a probationary employee at the time of his firing, the city said in a statement.

As a result, his dismissal will not be subject to a grievance procedure, according to the city. A representative for Raja could not be immediately reached.

He has not been charged in the shooting, though a criminal investigation by local authorities and the FBI is ongoing.

"While we are pleased that the city of Palm Beach Gardens has terminated the employment of the officer who gunned down Corey Jones, we maintain that the officer in question also must be held criminally liable for his reckless actions that night," Jones' family said through their lawyers.

Jones' death was another in a string of fatal incidents involving police and black men across the United States that have fueled questions about excessive use of force by officers.

Police say there was a confrontation with Jones, who was carrying a licensed handgun, after Raja pulled up in an unmarked van.

Raja shot six times, hitting Jones with three bullets, while Jones did not fire his weapon, the drummer's lawyers said.

Telephone records obtained by the Palm Beach Post newspaper showed Jones had been on a 53-minute phone call with AT&T roadside assistance at the time of the shooting.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Christian Plumb and Frances Kerry)