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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — Palm Beach County investigators say former Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja made a series of critical mistakes in his confrontation with Corey Jones in the early morning of October 18 that led to Raja shooting Jones to death.
Raja, a 7-year police veteran, was arrested Wednesday and charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder with a firearm.
He is locked up in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond and is expected to stand before a judge on Thursday.
Jones died after his car broke down on I-95 in Palm Beach Gardens and Raja, who was doing undercover work to solve a series of car burglaries, confronted Jones and shot him.
Terry Banks, Jones’ uncle, says they see Raja’s arrest as the first step in a lengthy process.
“It won’t bring Corey back but it’s a process that we all have to endure and go through,” Banks said.
The encounter between Raja and Jones was unknowingly captured on an audio recording from Jones’ cellphone provider because Jones called in for roadside assistance when his car broke down.
The police report says Raja was not wearing his tactical vest with police markings like his supervisor advised him.
The report also says, “Raja chose to approach Corey Jones’ vehicle in a tactically unsound, unsafe and grossly negligent manner.”
The document also says that “Raja’s police van had no emergency lights, police decals or markings of any sort” and that “at no time during the recording did Raja say he was a police officer.”
Investigators say, “A reasonable person can only assume the thoughts and concerns Corey Jones was experiencing as he saw the van approaching him at that hour of the morning.”
Prosecutors say Raja fired six shots, hitting Jones three times.
Jones legally had a gun but did not fire it. In fact, investigators say Jones dropped his gun and was running away when he was hit with one of the bullets.
Finally, investigators say, “There is sufficient evidence and probable cause to conclude Nouman Raja continued to discharge his firearm at Corey Jones after Raja realized Jones no longer possessed a firearm. The intent of discharging his firearm was to kill Corey Jones.”
After a grand jury presentment, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced the charges Wednesday afternoon.
“The grand jury today found that the use of force by Mr. Raja was unjustified,” Aronberg said.
Jones’ family and community leaders, like Bishop Thomas Masters, want Jones’ death to inspire change.
They want a law mandating that officers making traffic stops be in marked units and wearing clearly marked police gear.
“This is not a Palm Beach County problem. This is not a Florida problem,” Masters said. “This is a national problem that it could happen anywhere in this country.”