The shooting took place early Sunday morning along Interstate 95. Officer Nouman Raja, with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, stopped to investigate what he believed was an abandoned vehicle.
He was on duty, wearing civilian clothes 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. "Rest assured, we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly why this plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car would approach Corey."
Jones' family is being represented by Benjamin Crump, a well-known attorney who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Martin, a black teenager, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of charges in 2013. Brown was killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
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 was hired by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department in April, and is on paid administrative leave. Stepp said there are no records with his agency of any complaints, disciplinary actions or internal affairs investigations against the officer.