Who was Corey Jones?
I’ve seen his hashtag come up on my feed for a few days, but I scrolled by. I guess I’ve had my fill of police shootings. After a while they all run into another. It wasn’t until a friend tagged me in a post that I actually looked into it.
The headline of an article by MSN.com reads, “Musician Killed by Plains Clothes Police Officer was Armed, Police Say.” Those words are going to erase any sympathy that some folk might have had for him.
He was a good man. He played the drums at his local church and had a job doing maintenance with the city. His band was about to tour the country. In other words, this man had everything to live for. But he had a gun. Case closed. We have presidential candidates that are talking openly about following Australia’s example and doing a National buyback. There are people who have suggested that gun owners should take a bullet as part of the requirements of ownership.
Why did he have it anyway? He had it because he does deliveries as part of his job. Some of those deliveries take him into some rough neighborhoods, and put him into dangerous situations. This isn’t an ammosexual stereotype, or a bloodthirsty thug. He was a dude who wanted to make sure he made it home every night.
So he got a permit, and he bought a gun.
The night that Jones died a plain clothes officer who was staking out a local hotel for car thefts, decided to leave his post. Nouman Raja was in an unmarked police cruiser when he stopped to check on what he believed was an abandoned car, only to be “suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”
Why did he leave his post? The South Florida blog, Gossip Extra, published this anonymous quote from a police source. “He had no business leaving his post without his supervisor’s permission, which he didn’t have. He should have radioed for a marked unit to investigate Jones, which he didn’t do.”
Raja hadn’t been on the Palm Beach Gardens Police Force for long. Previously he had been with the Atlantis Police where he was disciplined three times: twice for mishandling evidence and once for not following proper procedure during a car chase.
By the way, the car belonged to Jones. It had broken down on his way home from a gig. He was waiting on the onramp for roadside assistance when Raja pulled up in his unmarked car.
And the headline was right. He did have a gun. A gun that he had bought legally, three days earlier. A gun that he might have had beside him as he waited in the darkness for the tow truck.
From one vantage point, you have a man waiting for help when a stranger pulls up. He had no way to know that Raja was a police officer. It’s hard to know if Raja identified himself as there was neither a dash nor a lapel cam. But after breaking police protocol by leaving his post, Raja pulled up on Jones and saw an immediate threat. And he did what police are trained to do. He killed Jones.
And now the headlines are burying him, by changing him from a victim into a threat. “Armed Florida Church Musician…”, ” Musician Killed by Florida Plainclothes Officer was Armed…”