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(Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A fired Florida police officer was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder Thursday for the fatal 2015 shooting of a stranded black motorist, becoming the first officer in the state to be convicted of an on-duty shooting in 30 years.

Nouman Raja, 41, now faces a mandatory sentence of at least 25 years, up to life in prison for the death of Corey Jones, 31.

The four-man, two-woman jury had deliberated for about four hours. Raja did not react as verdict was read, while about 25 relatives and supporters of Jones looked on, some weeping quietly.

One said “the sweetest sound was the click of those handcuffs” after Raja was led from the courtroom. Judge Joseph Marx set sentencing for April 26.

Prosecutors said Raja, one of very few police officers across the nation to be convicted of an on-duty shooting, escalated what should have been a routine interaction into a deadly confrontation.

Working in plain clothes, he drove his unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp, stopping feet from Jones’ broken-down SUV at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. The prosecutor said Raja never identified himself and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. That caused Jones, a concealed weapons permit holder, to grab his gun and run as Raja repeatedly opened fire, they said.

Jones, a housing inspector and part-time drummer, had been returning home from a nightclub performance when his vehicle stalled. He had purchased the .38-caliber handgun days earlier to protect his $10,000 drum set, which was in the SUV.

Raja was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap as part of an auto burglary investigation team when he spotted Jones’ SUV. He said he first thought it was empty, but then saw Jones inside. Raja’s supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest to identify himself if he approached a civilian. He did not. Prosecutors also questioned why Raja didn’t pull out the badge he had in his pocket.

What police didn’t know at first was that Jones was talking to a tow truck dispatcher on a recorded line. That recording shows Jones saying “Huh?” as his door opens. Raja yells, “You good?” Jones says he is. Raja replies twice, “Really?” with Jones replying “Yeah.”

Suddenly, Raja shouts at Jones to raise his hands, using an expletive. Jones replies “Hold on!” and Raja repeats his demand.

Prosecutors believe Jones pulled his gun and tried to get away. Raja fired three shots and Jones ran down an embankment. Prosecutors said he threw his gun, which was found 125 feet (38 meters) from his body, but Raja fired three more times, 10 seconds after the first volley.

Jones was killed by a bullet through his heart. A medical examiner testified that Jones would have dropped feet from where the fatal shot struck him. He also had been shot once in each arm.

Prosecutors said Raja, not knowing of the tow-truck dispatcher recording, tried to deceive investigators. He told them in a video-recorded interview hours after the shooting he said “Police, can I help you?” as Jones jumped from the SUV. He told investigators Jones then leapt backward and pointed his gun, forcing him to fire. Raja said Jones ran but turned and again pointed his gun, forcing him to fire the second volley.

Prosecutors charged Raja with manslaughter because they believed his actions created the confrontation and showed “culpable negligence,” meaning a “reckless disregard” or “conscious indifference” for Jones’ life. They charged him with attempted first-degree murder because they believed that while they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt which of the six shots killed him, the second volley was a conscious effort to kill Jones as he ran away.

Raja’s attorneys said Jones’ initial “Huh?” shows he identified himself — the tape picked up something unintelligible and faint.

The last Florida officer tried for an on-duty killing was Miami’s William Lozano in 1989. The Hispanic officer fatally shot a black motorcyclist who he said tried to hit him. A passenger died when the motorcycle crashed. The deaths resulted in three days of rioting.

Lozano was convicted of two manslaughter counts in a Miami trial, but an appeals court dismissed the verdict, saying the case should have been moved because of racial tensions. Lozano was acquitted at a 1993 retrial in Orlando.

Palm Beach Gardens fired Raja shortly after the shooting. He had been under house arrest since he was charged in 2016.

40 Black Men & Youths Who Were Killed By Police
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13 thoughts on “Fired Florida Officer Guilty Of Slaying Black Motorist

  1. Ted Gravely on said:

    The last time a Florida officer faced trial for an on-duty killing was in 1989. William Lozano was convicted of two manslaughter counts for fatally shooting a black motorcyclist, causing him to crash and kill a passenger. The verdict was later dismissed, and Lozano was acquitted in a 1993 retrial. Not surprising that it was a black man then and not surprising the ultimate outcome – No punishment. The appellate system doesn’t work for black people. All others – “FREEDOM.” This Blue Racist will win his appeal, receive back pay and fade from memory. Don’t believe me – quick, where is William Lozano? He was sacrificed for a minute, but ultimately got away with murdering human beings. Folks this system is broken and is for suckers. That black man would still be alive today if he would have shot that racist fool. He should have stood his ground. That’s what you’re missing. Don’t get sucked in by this verdict. Use that law of fearing for your life to your benefit. Shoot hostile racists before they murder you. You have the inherent right to self defense.

  2. jhuf on said:

    I agree with the verdict it seems this cop “cowboyed” the situation I’ve always felt it should be a federal requirement that ALL cops engaging in traffic stops or contacts ether be accompanied by a uniformed officer or don some type of identification

  3. americanize on said:

    Black America,another example you have no friends.It doesn,t matter if they are white,hispanic,muslum we have no friends,get on code.

    • African American Woman on said:

      It just occurred to me that since you say the same spiel on every post; its YOU that have no friends…you know there are websites for that.

      • americanize on said:

        African American Koon/white supremacist female.I understand you don,t get it,I,m not talking to trolls anyway,I,m talking to my black brothers and sisters,there,s a website for you to.Its called stormfront,forechan,fox news,rush Limbaugh,aryan nation,alt-right.Do I need to keep going.

  4. Shawn on said:

    I’m happy as well but the truth of the matter is if that officer was a WHITE MAN would the situation be different. Smh

    • African American Woman on said:

      I’m curious…please explain how you came to that conclusion when cops kill whites and Hispanics at higher rates than black people? I really wish people would research stuff before they jump on the victim wagon.

    • Oscar Sylvan on said:

      This case disproves the myth that minorities can’t be racist against other minorities (which should also have been disproven when a white Hispanic with an Aryan name,George Zimmerman,who wasn’t even an authority, killed Trayvon Martin.Yet there is a big “what if” regarding the race of that killer cop.

      • African American Woman on said:

        You must be new here. I don’t care if the cop was green and the victim, sky blue. This cop’s machismo behavior killed an innocent man. Those are the only details I care about.

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