02:31 - Source: CNN
Plainclothes officer shoots and kills Florida man

Story highlights

Jones was shot and killed early Sunday by an officer in civilian clothes

Police recover a handgun at the scene

Jones' death is the latest in a string of controversial police shootings

CNN  — 

A Florida police officer shot and killed 31-year-old Corey Jones, and his family and friends, as well as investigators, want to know exactly what happened and why.

Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja believed it was an abandoned car and stopped to investigate, according to authorities.

Raja was on duty but was wearing civilian clothing and driving an unmarked car, police Chief Stephen Stepp told reporters.

“As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones,” Stepp said.

Police recovered a handgun at the scene, which paperwork showed Jones had bought three days before the shooting. Officials have not said whether that gun was fired. There is no dash camera footage of the incident, nor was the officer wearing a body camera.

Citing family members, CNN affiliate WPTV reported that Jones was on the side of the highway because his car had broken down after a gig.

“Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing. He lived every moment to the fullest and was an inspiration to many; the kind of son, brother and friend people could only hope for,” his family said.

Jones’ family attorney is Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder charges in 2013. Brown was killed last year by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jones’ death is the latest in a string of controversial police shootings that has sparked nationwide protests and stirred questions about race and policing. Jones was black. His death lit up social media, with people tweeting the hashtags #Justice4Corey and #CoreyJones.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation.

Jones was a drummer. He also worked at the Delray Beach Housing Authority.

His longtime boss told WPTV that she was “in a state of disbelief.”

“He respected everyone. I can’t imagine what could have happened that would cause the police officer to be threatened by Corey. Corey was not a threat to anyone,” Delray Beach Housing Authority CEO Dorothy Ellington told WPTV.

Raja, who has worked for the police department since April, is on paid administrative leave.

CNN’s Alina Machado, Javier de Diego and Justin Lear contributed to this report.