WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jurors began deliberating Wednesday afternoon in the manslaughter trial of a former South Florida police officer charged in the 2015 fatal shooting of a stranded black motorist.
Deliberations began after lawyers made their closing arguments in the nearly two-week trial of Nouman Raja.
The jury was adjourned for the day around 5 p.m. after failing to reach a verdict. They'll resume deliberations at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Corey Jones was stranded on the side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Palm Beach Gardens after his SUV had broken down when he was shot and killed by Raja in October 2015.
Defense attorneys argued that Raja, 41, shot Jones in self-defense. Jones, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a gun.
Prosecutors claim Raja instigated the confrontation because he was working undercover, wasn't in uniform and never identified himself as a police officer, leading Jones, 31, to believe that Raja was a robber.
"Just because he was a police officer at the time, he does not get a pass for what he did to Corey Jones," assistant state attorney Adrienne Ellis said during her closing arguments Wednesday morning. "He is guilty of manslaughter while armed, and he has to be held accountable for what he did, for the actions that he took that night -- the life that he took that night."
During his closing arguments, defense attorney Richard Lubin said while Jones' death was a tragedy, no crime was committed.
"He could have just shot, but he said, 'Drop,' and Corey Jones didn't drop," Lubin told the jury. "There was a gun pointed at Officer Raja's head, and Corey Jones didn't drop it. And what choice in this terrible tragedy does Officer Raja have but to fire the gun in self-defense?"
The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department fired Raja shortly after the shooting.
Raja has been on house arrest since he was charged in June 2016. He also faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
The jury has the option to convict Raja on the lesser charges of manslaughter or culpable negligence, instead of manslaughter with a firearm, or the lesser charges of second-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault with a firearm or simple assault instead of attempted first-degree murder.
Raja, who did not testify during the trial, faces up to life in prison if convicted.