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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Politicians were nearly booed off the stage at a rally when they promised a full and fair investigation into a police officer’s fatal shooting of a black man who played the drums in churches and bands and worked as a public housing inspector.

The crowd of several hundred people gathered Thursday at Palm Beach Gardens City Hall to call for justice in the killing of 31-year-old Corey Jones and they grew restive when Palm Beach County Mayor Shelley Vana pledged the probe would provide answers.

“We do care and the bottom line is, this county must come together in love, peace and transparency,” Vana said. “We as county commissioners believe every life matters.”

Many in the crowd were far from convinced that the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and the top prosecutor, Dave Aronberg, will do a thorough investigation into the actions of Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja. The investigation is likely to take months. A police officer hasn’t been charged with a crime in the county for shooting someone in the line of duty since the early 1990s.

The Rev. Sylvester Banks Sr., a well-known local pastor and Jones’ grandfather, said the community will be closely monitoring the case and its outcome.

“Just because one policeman corrupts himself, is it right for the rest of the police force to cover it up?” he said to the crowd.

“No!” they responded.

“If he has done wrong, let him face his wrongdoing,” Banks said.

Jones was shot to death early Sunday by Raja, who stopped his unmarked van to check on what he thought was an abandoned vehicle along Interstate 95 and was confronted by an “armed subject,” police have said. Jones had a gun he had legally purchased, but family attorneys said they were told by investigators that he never fired a shot.

Raja fired six shots and hit Jones three times, family attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters.

Details of exactly what happened have not been released by police. Raja’s van didn’t have a dashboard camera and the department’s officers do not wear body cameras, the chief said.

The Jones shooting has plunged his family and the community at large into the ongoing national debate about police use of force, particularly in cases involving African-Americans. At the rally, people wore “Justice 4 Corey Jones” T-shirts and many carried signs making reference to other police shootings of black people around the country.

“This is really only the beginning,” said Howard Williams, a local activist and friend of Jones. “Do not give up the fight. I’m not going to stop until we get justice.”

Jones was a musician who performed with local bands and had just left a gig early Sunday when his car broke down. A fellow band member tried unsuccessfully to jumpstart the car, then left Jones to await a tow truck along a dark ramp on I-95 in Palm Beach Gardens, an affluent city north of West Palm Beach.

Jones’ family said he may have thought he had to defend himself when Raja approached.

Jones was running away at some point, but there’s no evidence he was shot in the back, Crump said. His body was found 80 to 100 feet from his car.

Investigators recovered a handgun on the ground, Stepp said, and records indicated Jones purchased the weapon legally three days earlier. Crump said Jones had a concealed carry permit.

Jones had the gun because he had expensive drums and other equipment, Crump said.

Raja, 38, didn’t have any disciplinary actions or complaints since joining the Palm Gardens force in April, according to records. He previously worked seven years at the Atlantis Police Department, another small city in Palm Beach County. Police haven’t said what race he is.

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(Photo Source: AP)

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6 thoughts on “Doubts Amid Promise of Fair Probe in Florida Police Shooting

  1. specialt757 on said:

    I get it’s a dangerous and lots of times, thankless job being a cop and everyone is not cut out for the job. People join the force to get a pay check and “make it home at the end of the day”, not caring if anyone else does. But is killing the only action allowable? More often it has become clear that’s the 1st and only actions when it comes to black men, especially when it’s one on one.

  2. specialt757 on said:

    Sounds like Mr. black man killer cop approached this abandon vehicle to “investigate”. Mr. Jones was walking back towards his car, thought Mr. no uniform cop was possibly trying to jack his car or items in the car and words were exchanged. It’s possible Mr. Jones pulled his gun, but he, Mr. no uniform cop, didn’t identify himself as a cop and once seeing the gun, fired his weapon 6 times, killing Mr. Jones. In this scenario, Mr. Jones committed no crime, oh I’m sorry being a black man in America was his crime. And there will be NO justice for Mr. Jones, no cameras or videos equal no voice.

  3. specialt757 on said:

    Okay let me if I got this right. This off-duty or “undercover” with no-uniform (of course) and unmarked VAN approached this “abandon vehicle”. Fired 6 shots on Mr. Jones who was found 80 to 100 feet away from his car. Mr. Jones’s legal gun was found near him with no shots fired, from said weapon. Mr. no uniform cop, thought exactly WHAT when he fired 6 shots killing this black man?

  4. Ms Curly on said:

    I never heard of a police being undercover on the highway in the middle of the night, with no special purpose, just riding. Who makes these dumb decisions? This is crazy. Reminds me of zimmerman, although he was not a cop, he thought he was one and got away with murder. My heart is heavy, and I hope somehow the family can find out what happened to Mr Jones.

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