Corey Jones shooting heads to Florida grand jury

Family of drummer killed by officer wants answers
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Story highlights

  • State's attorney says he is following protocol for officer-involved shootings
  • Officer Nouman Raja shot and killed Corey Jones along Florida highway off-ramp in October
  • Raja was in an unmarked car and was wearing street clothes

(CNN)The case of a Florida police officer who shot and killed a man whose car had broken down last year will be presented to a grand jury, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg told reporters Wednesday.

Aronberg said it was protocol to send officer-involved shootings to a grand jury. But he also said he wants to be transparent about the process of investigating the October 18 fatal shooting of Corey Jones by Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja.
    "Our only motivation is to do justice," Aronberg said.
    The grand jury will review the evidence before its term expires June 30, he added.
    Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Jones' family, posted a statement on Twitter.
    It began: "While we are pleased to learn that the officer who senselessly killed our Corey will face a grand jury for his reckless act, we understand nothing can bring back our son, brother and friend."
    Richard Lubin, an attorney for Raja, said he and his client "look forward to participating" in the grand jury process. The police department fired Raja in November.
    The death of Jones is one of the most recent in a series of controversial police shootings across the country that have sparked protests and raised questions about race and policing. Jones was black. Raja is Indian-American. Comments about Jones' death lit up social media, with people tweeting demands for justice using hashtags #Justice4Corey and #CoreyJones.

    What we know about the shooting

    Raja was on a burglary detail and in street clothes when he happened upon Jones, whose car had broken down, on a highway off-ramp in Palm Beach County.
    Jones, a 31-year-old drummer, had just played a gig and was heading home when his car failed about midnight.
    Jones had called for a tow after making 15 calls to a roadside assistance group, Crump said a few days after the shooting.
    About 3 a.m., Raja stopped his unmarked vehicle at the scene.
    Both men were armed. Jones had a concealed carry permit for his gun, which was never fired. Raja fired six times, hitting Jones three times, Crump has said.

    What we don't know

    It is unclear why Raja shot Jones. Aronberg said Wednesday that it is standard for an officer who is involved in a shooting to be asked questions at the site. But the state's attorney cited an ongoing investigation in not commenting whether the officer obliged then or at all.
    A source close to the investigation told CNN on condition of anonymity in October that investigators believe the shooting was a result of Jones and Raja misidentifying each other. The source said investigators believe Raja may not have made it sufficiently clear he was an officer and that Jones may not have heard what the officer said.
    The source also said Raja felt he had to check the car because there had been burglaries in the area recently and that burglars had parked near the ramp where Jones' vehicle was.
    Palm Beach Gardens police have not said whether Raja identified himself to Jones. There is no dashboard camera footage of the shooting, and Raja was not wearing a body camera, police said. Traffic cams in the area only provide a live feed and there were no recordings.
    Two witnesses at a hotel only heard gunshots and saw the aftermath of the shooting, the source told CNN.
    Jones' relatives have asserted he would never pull a gun on someone he knew was a police officer.
    "We believe Corey went to his grave not knowing if this was a real cop or not," Crump has said.