PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – A stand your ground hearing resumed Tuesday for Nouman Raja, the former Palm Beach Gardens Police officer accused of killing church drummer Corey Jones during a roadside shooting.
Raja is facing charges of manslaughter and attempted murder.
In October 2015, Jones’ car had broken down on an I-95 exit ramp. Raja, working undercover, claims Jones pointed a gun at him, and he shot him in self-defense.
Prosecutors say what’s heard during Jones’ call for roadside assistance and Raja’s call to dispatch conflict with his account.
The defense wants the judge to dismiss the case, based on the state’s stand your ground law. Under the revised law, the burden is now on prosecutors to show clear and convincing evidence the case should not be dismissed. The burden used to fall on the defense.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Jones’ family, said if the judge rules in favor of Raja it would amount to sanctioned murder.
Crump and Jones’ family held a news conference before the start of the second day of the hearing.
Jones’ brother CJ said it was hard listening to the roadside call, especially when his brother was hit. He added it’s difficult to sit through the lies being told by Raja’s defense attorney.
“It’s very draining to hear all the lies that the defense has to create the story and we just want to be here to fight and let you guys know that we are going to be here for the long run,” he said.
CJ added that Raja lied when he said Jones pointed his gun at him with his right hand because his brother was left handed.
“He had my son’s life in his hands and he decided to take the wrong actions and the words, that he said to my son get your f***ing hands up was really hurting,” said Jones’ father Clinton.
Raja may or may not testify, but many legal observers expect he will, to give his account in person.
Some of the evidence may include a video made by the FBI. The agency created a timeline of the shooting from 911 calls from witnesses and Raja as well as crime scene photos to give a second-by-second view of what happened that morning in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Stand your ground was originally intended for normal citizens who are in fear for their life and in this case if anybody was in fear for their life it was Corey, but he chose not to use gun violence,” said Jones’ cousin Anquan Boldin.
A police dog found Jones’ gun about 75 feet from his SUV, near where Raja told his sergeant he had seen Jones throw it. The safety was on and it had fired no shots.
If the judge denies Raja’s claim and allows the case to go forward to trial before a jury, Raja’s legal team will again claim stand your ground or self-defense. Regardless of how the judge rules, an appeal is expected.
The judge could rule at the end of the hearing, or later.
Raja is slated to go to trial in July.