Justice

Church Drummer Shot Dead by Plain Clothes Cop

Hours after he finished playing drums at a church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 31-year-old Corey Jones found himself stranded on the side of a highway. His bandmate, Mathew Huntsberger, brought oil for the broken down SUV, but the two ultimately decided to call a tow truck. Shortly after Huntsberger left, however, a police officer in plain clothes pulled up and fatally shot Jones, who he said confronted him with a gun.

According to Huntsberger, he left his friend around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday after calling roadside assistance. Approximately 45 minutes later, Jones was shot and killed by Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja.

In a statement posted on the department's Facebook page—which appears to have been deactivated—Palm Beach Garden police said that Raja "stopped to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Blvd."

police statement

"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject," the department wrote. "As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of the subject, Corey Jones."

Family and friends of Jones describe him as non-confrontational, saying that while he did have a gun and gun permit, he would never use it. An unnamed source with knowledge of the incident told the Palm Beach Post that the shooting might have been a misunderstanding. It is possible that he was confused by the fact that the officer was in plain clothes and driving an unmarked car.

"The assumption is that the guy didn’t know he was a cop," the source said.

Jones' brother, Clinton Jones Jr., said he learned about Corey's car troubles around 3 a.m. The family did not learn that Jones had been killed until 6 p.m.

Police also stated that Raja did not have a body camera on during his encounter with Jones. Little additional information has been released, but the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department said that Raja has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

"He was a good kid, just coming home from a gig," Jones’s cousin, Frank Hearst, told the Washington Post. "He was just an all-around good guy who never got into any trouble, never had any record. It’s just an unfortunate situation."

"Hearst said family members are upset at how little information has been provided about the shooting. They want to know how many shots were fired, and what weapon he allegedly was carrying when he was killed. They say Jones never carried a firearm."

ATTN: reached out to the Palm Gardens Police Department but a representative could not be reached by the time of publication.