A former police officer from Florida was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder in the October 2015 shooting of a stranded motorist.
Nouman Raja, who faces life in prison for shooting Corey Jones, is the first officer in 30 years who convicted for an on-duty shooting incident. He was fired soon after the shooting.
Raja was working on an auto-burglary investigation team when he spotted Jones’ car on Oct. 18, 2015. Jones was stranded after his car stalled in the middle of the road and was waiting for assistance when Raja drove an unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp and stopped close to the vehicle. Raja didn’t identify himself as a police officer and spoke in a manner that possibly made Jones wonder if he was going to be carjacked or killed. At the time of the shooting, Jones had a concealed-weapons permit and a .38-caliber handgun he bought to protect his drum set which was worth $10,000.
In his testimony, Raja said he initially thought that the car was empty but later saw Jones inside it. Raja, who was in plain clothes, had been ordered by his superiors to don a police vest when he approached a civilian. But he wasn’t wearing his vest, neither did he show Jones his badge.
Due to Raja’s aggressive manner and the way he spoke to Jones, the latter thought his life was in danger and pulled out his gun. Raja asked Jones if he was okay and when the latter answered in the affirmative, Raja yelled some expletives at Jones. He told Jones to put his hands above his head and when Jones began running away, Raja shot him thrice. Despite being shot, Jones tried to escape and also threw his gun on the ground, after which Raja fired three more shots at him, one of which the coroner believed killed him. Jones died due to a bullet that struck him in his heart. He had gunshot injuries on both his arms.
On being questioned about the shooting, Raja said he followed all the procedure and only shot Jones because he felt that Jones would attack him. However, police found a recording in Jones’s SUV of a call he had made to a roadside assistance for a towtruck. Raja, who was unaware of the call, had told investigators that he identified himself as a cop and was threatened by Jones pulling his gun out. But from the recording it was clear that Raja had not identified himself to Jones. It also showed that Raja had waited for more than 30 seconds after shooting Jones before calling 911, implying in the call to the operators that Jones was still alive and armed.
Raja was convicted after the recording from Jones’ car was played to the jury. It was clear from the recording that Raja had not identified himself and also tried to deceive the investigators of the sequence of events.
Raja, who was 38-years-old at the time of the incident, had been a police officer for seven years before he joined the Palm Beach Gardens force six months prior. He also used to teach police classes at a local community college. Raja was fired on June 2, 2016, and was on paid leave since. He was put under house arrest after the investigation began in 2016.
Raja, now 41-years-old, is of South Asian descent and has been convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder.