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Video shows police officer who killed Corey Jones speaking to investigators

'I didn't want to die,' Nouman Raja recalls of encounter with stranded musician

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Just hours after Corey Jones was killed, then-Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja recalled for investigators what led him to pull the trigger of the gun that fatally wounded the 31-year-old musician whose SUV had broken down on an Interstate 95 exit ramp in the fall of 2015.

Local 10 News on Monday obtained the investigative video in which Raja explains how he shot and killed Jones on the morning of Oct. 18, 2015.

In the video, Raja tells investigators how he thought the SUV was empty when he saw Jones holding a gun and pointing it at him.

"I remember pulling the trigger, I think two to three times, and he started running," Raja tells investigators.

Raja recalls how the gun he claimed Jones was holding had a red laser light on it. Raja claims Jones ran away but then spun around, apparently raising his arm as if to shoot at him.

"At that point it's like, he knows I'm a cop, I identified myself and this guy's trying to kill me and I -- I didn't want to die," Raja says.

Raja was arrested in 2016 and charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.

Police said Jones was stranded on the side of the I-95 exit ramp to PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens when he was shot by Raja, who was not in uniform and was driving an unmarked van.

Jones, who was a drummer in a reggae band, was leaving a performance in Jupiter early that morning when his SUV broke down.

Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was fired about a month after the shooting. 

According to a probable cause affidavit, Raja was on duty at the time of the shooting but not wearing clothes that identified him as an officer.

"There had been a problem with late-night auto burglaries in Palm Beach Gardens," the affidavit said. "Raja was assigned to surveillance patrol in large parking lots with the goal of locating the burglary suspects."

Raja had been told by his supervisor to wear his tactical vest with police markings on it while working the assignment, but his vest and police radio were on the van's floorboard next the driver's seat when the shooting occurred, the affidavit said.

The officer used his personal cellphone to call 911 after the shooting, providing his version of what happened.

"(Jones) had a silver handgun in his right hand," Raja said. "I came out. I saw him come out with a handgun. I gave him commands. I identified myself and he turned, pointed the gun at me and started running. I shot him."

Police tape surrounds the Interstate 95 exit ramp to PGA Boulevard in the hours after the Oct. 18, 2015, shooting.
Police tape surrounds the Interstate 95 exit ramp to PGA Boulevard in the hours after the Oct. 18, 2015, shooting.

Police arrived and began their investigation, searching for the gun that Raja claimed Jones was carrying at the time of the shooting. Police used K-9 officers to search the tall grass near the PGA Boulevard exit ramp and found the gun about 74 feet from the back of Jones' SUV.

Jones was found about 192 feet from the back of his vehicle, the affidavit said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead at 3:32 a.m.

Raja used his personal gun to shoot Jones because his department-issued gun was in its holster inside the van, the affidavit said.

Three of the six shots that were fired struck Jones -- one in each arm and another to his chest, the affidavit said. Dr. Gertrude Juste, an associate medical examiner in Palm Beach County, performed an autopsy and determined that the gunshot wound to Jones' chest was what caused his death.

Police photograph the spot where Corey Jones' gun was found in the tall grass.
Police photograph the spot where Corey Jones' gun was found in the tall grass.

Despite his more than seven years of experience as a police officer, Raja acted "in a tactically unsound, unsafe and grossly negligent manner," the affidavit said.

Raja told police that Jones threw his gun into the grass, but the investigation revealed that Raja "continued to fire at Jones as he ran away," the affidavit said. Juste determined that the shot that struck Jones' right arm was fired from the rear.

"There is no question that Jones ran away from Raja," the affidavit said.

Investigators also determined that Jones' gun was loaded, but the chamber of the pistol was locked and the safety was on, the affidavit said.

Raja is out of jail on $250,000 bond. His trial is scheduled for later this year, but his attorneys are seeking to get the charges dropped under the state's "stand your ground" law.