Brother of Corey Jones shooter shares virtues, pain of Nouman Raja

When the time came for Adnan Raja to tell his mother that his younger brother, Nouman, had shot a man in the line of duty, he said he didn’t have the heart to tell her the man Nouman shot was dead.

Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja appears in court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016, charged in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Nouman Raja is being charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence and one count of attempted first degree murder with a firearm. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja appears in court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016, charged in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Nouman Raja is being charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence and one count of attempted first degree murder with a firearm. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The men’s mother, Adnan Raja told FBI agents, prayed for 31-year-old drummer Corey Jones for two days solid until Adnan finally told her Jones had died in the Oct. 18, 2015, fatal roadside encounter with her son.

RELATED: Prosecutors said officer lied in Corey Jones’ shooting

Among the more than 3,000 pages of documents and 50 audio and video recordings in Nouman Raja’s criminal case released Tuesday, the interview more than a year ago with Adnan Raja provides the first insight into the Raja family’s sadness over the loss of life, love for each other and distrust of others in the aftermath of the shooting.

“I think I’m a good guy, he’s 10 times better than I am,” Adnan Raja, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy, said of his only brother. “He’ll give you the shirt off his back, and for the media to portray him the way that they did, I don’t think that was right.”

In his interview with FBI agents, Adnan Raja, formerly a detective with the Riviera Beach Police Department, candidly said his brother’s experience had him thinking about leaving the law enforcement profession.

The undated interview came at least several months before Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg charged Nouman Raja with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder.

Adnan Raja himself would become the subject of news two months after his brother’s shooting of Corey Jones, when he became one of five deputies to involved in the shooting of 48-year-old Olie James Goad in a business plaza on Congress Avenue. Goad survived.

But Adnan Raja’s conversation with police about his brother revealed, perhaps for the first time publicly that Adnan Raja himself was nearly involved in a shooting less than hours after his brother’s 3 a.m. confrontation with Jones, 31.

Adnan Raja said he had a pair of robbery suspects pinned down at 4 a.m., just about the time he received a text from one of his brother’s colleagues at the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. Nouman had been involved in a shooting, the text read. He was OK.

Corey Jones, 31, was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer, Oct. 18, 2015.
Corey Jones, 31, was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer, Oct. 18, 2015.

“I was stressed because now, it’s kinda odd because I just almost had someone at gunpoint, and now my brother … til I talk to him I don’t know he’s OK,” Adnan Raja said. “Plus, my mother’s old, I don’t want anything to stress her out.”

The older brother says he remembers reaching out to Nouman Raja, either by phone or text, shortly after he found out. They spoke briefly, just long enough for Adnan Raja to hear his brother was fine.

Their conversations in the days afterward contained little more than basic information, Adnan Raja said. They didn’t trust anyone, he said, and were convinced that someone inside the investigation was talking to the media.

When Adnan Raja wanted to come and visit his brother a couple of days later, Nouman Raja told him not to come because there were too many reporters outside his house. Adnan Raja told his little brother not to go grocery shopping — he would do it for him.

Many things about the aftermath of the shooting frustrated Adnan Raja –aside from public perception.

One was his belief that someone — another officer, he was convinced — had leaked a “word for word” rendition of Nouman’s Raja’s crime scene walk-through with investigators in the aftermath of the shooting.

Prosecutors publicly released an audio recording and transcript of that interview Tuesday. In it, several of Nouman Raja’s statements directly contradict Raja’s own call to 911 after the shooting as well as an audio recording from Jones’ call to a roadside assistance line, which captured his encounter with Raja.

For Adnan Raja, whose assessment of police work in the south was “no one has each other’s back,” the belief that a fellow officer was immediately leaking information about his brother’s case “I thought that  below the belt,” he said.

Palm Beach Gardens fired Nouman Raja in November 2015, less than a month after the shooting of Jones, a drummer on his way home from a gig when his SUV broke down on the Interstate 95 southbound exit at PGA Boulevard. By then he had spent eight years as an officer in Atlantis but was only seven months into his job with Gardens.

“I know he was probationary, but hey, c’mon, man, at least, you know, whatever,” Adnan Raja said, adding that he thought the fair thing to do would have been to let the investigation run its course. “We’re a little bit upset, but, we’re not going to talk about it.”

Adnan Raja in the conversation brought up Darren Wilson, the now former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, saying he felt Wilson didn’t get “fair, due process.”

In his brother’s case, Adnan Raja said, he had been portrayed as a knife-wielding bully when the truth was, he said, Nouman Raja was against violence. There was an immediate push to make his brother’s case racial, he said, “but they can’t do that.”

Jones is black and Raja is of Pakistani descent.

The brothers, Adnan Raja said, almost immediately decided to close ranks. Nouman Raja wasn’t talking to any relatives except for his brother and the occasional call to their mother, Adnan Raja said. Neither one of them was talking about the case, period, he said, because his brother “already has enough stress as it is.”

Their focus, Adnan Raja said, was to get his brother a job in another profession. Nouman Raja works in a tactical supply store that sells vests and other equipment primarily to law enforcement officers.

Adnan Raja still works for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

He said he took three days off after the shooting. But at some point shortly afterward, while working a detail at a Wal-Mart shopping center, Adnan Raja said someone looked at his name tag, recognized his last name and started moving toward him.

“And I was just like listen, I suggest you keep on walking,” Adnan Raja recalled.

He said both he and his brother got a number of spoof calls after the shooting, so he stopped answering his phone unless it was a number he recognized. Several calls, including one from a number Adnan Raja believed to be his brother’s former police chief in Atlantis, went unanswered.

In the nearly 15-minute interview with the agents, Adnan Raja painted a grim picture of law enforcement work. Face to face in some encounters, Adnan Raja said, an officer only has two choices.

“You shoot somebody if they point a gun at you, or do you take the bullet and hope you have a lot of life insurance?” he said.

VERDICT: Jury rejects claim prosecutor was fired because of cancer

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is on the stand on Friday, October 28, 2016 in a lawsuit where he is accused of improperly firing Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller while Miller was undergoing cancer treatment. (Joseph Forzano / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is on the stand on Friday, October 28, 2016 in a lawsuit where he is accused of improperly firing Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller while Miller was undergoing cancer treatment. (Joseph Forzano / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 2:48 p.m.: It took a Palm Beach County jury just over two hours Tuesday to decide in favor of the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office in a lawsuit from a former prosecutor who said she was fired because she had cancer.

The verdict comes nearly two weeks after the trial in Angela Miller’s case began, featuring testimony from current Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and three of his predecessors, along with several others in the legal community who worked with Miller during her 16-year stint at the office.

Attorneys for Aronberg’s office told jurors that all Aronberg did was exercise his right not to retain Miller when he took office, a decision that had already been in the making before Miller’s diagnosis in August 2012.

“We’re pleased with the jury’s verdict, and we feel justice has been served,” Aronberg said through spokesman Mike Edmondson after the verdict Tuesday.

Miller, a mother of two who tearfully told jurors on the witness stand that she was still undergoing chemotherapy when she learned she was being let go, said she was glad she pursued the case despite the outcome.

“It was critical for me to tell my story, because this is happening to someone else right now, as we’re talking, someone is being terminated right now because they’re sick. And it’s a story that has to be told,” Miller said.

Miller said she will be talking to her attorneys, Cathleen Scott and Lindsey Wagner, to decide whether she will appeal the case. Five months after she wasn’t retained at the state attorney’s office, Miller got a job at the Boca Raton commercial litigation firm Sachs, Sax and Caplan, where she remains today.

Defense attorney James Williams reminded jurors Tuesday that despite Aronberg’s decision not to keep Miller, he encouraged a partner the firm to hire her.

————–

ORIGINAL POST: Four women and two men have now begun deciding whether Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg wrongfully terminated former Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller in 2012 because she had cancer.

Lawyers of both sides of Miller’s lawsuit against her former employers are now delivering their closing arguments, ending the trial that began earlier this month and featured testimony from top politicians, judges and lawyers in Palm Beach County’s legal community.

Miller’s attorney, Cathleen Scott, reminded jurors that all who testified during the trial characterized Miller as a great trial attorney. Miller, diagnosed with cancer in August 2012, found out in December that Aronberg would not be swearing her in as one of his assistants when he took office in January 2013.

Scott balked at suggestions from Aronberg’s testimony while on the witness stand last week comparing his takeover at the state attorney’s’ office to a coach taking over a sports team and making changes to the coaching staff.

“This isn’t football, this isn’t baseball. This is somebody’s life,” Scott said, later adding: “The law doesn’t allow it, and neither should you.”

Defense attorney James Williams’ position to jurors has been that Miller wasn’t asked to stay on with Aronberg in spite of her cancer diagnosis, not because of it.

He reiterated concerns Aronberg and others said they had about Miller’s actions outside of the courtroom, including allegations that she berated a juror in 2010 for voting to acquit a murder suspect and broke the law in the summer of 2012 when asked an investigator to search an FBI database for personal reasons.

Williams told jurors that they would have to believe 11 lawyers, a doctor and three law enforcement officers would have had to have participated in an orchestrated cover-up in order for jurors to believe Miller’s version of why she was let go.

Though Miller’s cancer diagnosis was tragic, Williams said, her anger with Aronberg and the state attorney’s office is misplaced.

“It can’t be, ‘I can do anything I want, and now because I’m sick, they can’t do anything to me. That’s not how the law works,” Williams said, adding later: “To do it that way would encourage a lot of bad behavior.”

The last arguments jurors heard Tuesday was from Scott, who had harsh criticism for Aronberg and accused him of being more concerned with placating “his defense attorney donor buddies” than with prosecuting criminal defendants.

Scott compared Miller to Brian Fernandes, a chief assistant state attorney under Aronberg who as a statewide prosecutor was responsible for handling gang cases and other violent crimes.

“He’s a tough prosecutor, just like Ms. Miller,” Scott said. “Let’s hope he doesn’t get sick.”

Circuit Judge Donald Hafele sent jurors sback to deliberate at noon.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg to testify in suit from dismissed lawyer

Former Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller sits in court during a break Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is accused of improperly firing Miller while she was undergoing cancer treatment. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Former Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller sits in court during a break Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is accused of improperly firing Miller while she was undergoing cancer treatment. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is expected to take the stand Thursday to answer a lawsuit from a former prosecutor who claims she was fired shortly after Aronberg was elected because she had cancer.

Angela Miller, who was once the Palm Beach State Attorney’s office White Collar Crimes Unit chief, found out in December 2012 that Aronberg would not be keeping her on after Aronberg officially took office in January 2013. At the time, Miller was undergoing chemotherapy following a surgery for breast cancer.

Miller sued, claiming she was fired because Aronberg and others deemed her a liability due to her illness. Aronberg and other officials say Miller was merely not retained with the new administration – a prospect every Assistant State Attorney faces whenever a new top prosecutor takes office.

Testimony in the trial began last week and has already featured appearances by some of Miller’s former colleagues at the State Attorney’s Office, including former State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and two of his former chief assistants, Paul Zacks and Jill Richstone.

Dave Aronberg, seen here at an unrelated press conference on Oct. 25, 2016, is expected to testify in a trial for a lawsuit from a former prosecutor who says he fired her while she was undergoing cancer treatment.
Dave Aronberg, seen here at an unrelated press conference on Oct. 25, 2016, is expected to testify in a trial for a lawsuit from a former prosecutor who says he fired her while she was undergoing cancer treatment.

Miller took the stand Tuesday and remained there until Wednesday afternoon, breaking down in tears several times, including when describing how then interim State Attorney Peter Antonacci told her in December 2012 that she wouldn’t be retained under the new administration.

“I was fired because I have cancer,” Miller said later. “I was damaged goods. Who wants someone who is bald and has no eyelashes?”

At least one of Aronberg’s top assistants has testified that he didn’t know of Miller’s cancer diagnosis until after the decision had been made to let her go.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes, who was part of Aronberg’s transitional team before Aronberg officially took office in January, said he agreed with the decision not to keep Miller on staff after he learned in a November 2012 meeting that there was a claim that she had improperly used an FBI database to conduct a search for personal reasons. Fernandes described the incident as a serious violation that could have caused the entire office to lose access to the database.

Miller’s attorney, Cathleen Scott, questioned Fernandes about a note he made during what he said was a subsequent meeting. The note indicated that Miller had cancer, and the team did not want to keep her, but Fernandes told jurors the cancer notation had nothing to do with the decision not to retain her.

After Miller left the office, Aronberg dropped charges against the defendant in one of Miller’s last high-profile cases. Suncoast High School band director Ernest Brown once faced charges that he ran up debts on band accounts for school trips to Europe and used band money to take relatives on a trip.

A February 2013 memo from the state attorney’s office following the dropped charges was critical of prosecutors for pushing forward with a case they allegedly couldn’t prove and charging Brown with crimes for which the statute of limitations had passed.

A month later, prosecutors dropped fraud charges against Palm Beach jewelry store owner Vernon Lee Havens. This time, they  alleged outright that Miller had committed prosecutorial misconduct.

On the witness stand, Miller said she believed that Brown’s case was dismissed in part because Brown’s attorney, Michael Salnick, and former state attorney and Aronberg transitional team member Barry Krisher were friends.

Havens’ case, she said, was a further attempt to besmirch her character, knowing she was planning to sue.

“I do believe that it was a way to take a shot at me in the paper and say: ‘look at her, look at how stupid she is,'” Miller said.

Later, another Chief Assistant State Attorney, Alan Johnson, testified that he,  Krisher and others in the office met periodically for lunch gatherings that would inevitably turn into gripe sessions about the state of the office under McAuliffe, who had promoted Miller during his three years in office.

It was there, Johnson said, that another attorney began to complain about Zacks and Miller. Johnson said Aronberg later began attending those lunch sessions, and added that he told Aronberg of complaints bout Miller before he took office.

After McAuliffe left office early in 2012 and Antonacci was appointed as a temporary replacement, Miller said he constantly pestered her, calling and emailing her about cases while she was trying to recover from surgery and while undergoing chemotherapy.

“I told him that the people that I had left in place were more than capable of answering whatever questions he had, but he kept saying it was my unit, it was my unit,” Miller said. “He never gave me a break.”

Nouman Raja asks for delay in Corey Jones wrongful death suit

Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja appears in court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016, charged in the shooting death of Corey Jones.  Nouman Raja is being charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence and one count of attempted first degree murder with a firearm.  (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja appears in court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016, charged in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Nouman Raja is being charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence and one count of attempted first degree murder with a firearm. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The former Palm Beach Gardens police officer who shot 31-year old motorist Corey Jones while on a plainclothes detail last year has asked a federal judge to halt a wrongful death suit against him while he faces criminal charges in the case.

The request from Nouman Raja’s attorney Thursday comes nearly two months after Jones’ family filed a wrongful death suit against him, and three months after Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced a grand jury found Raja’s actions unjustified.

Aronberg, in turn, charged Raja with attempted murder and manslaughter by culpable negligence. A hearing in that case is set for Oct. 6.

Oscar Marrero, the Coral Gables attorney who represents Raja in his civil case, in his request Thursday said Raja won’t be able to get a fair trial in both the criminal and civil cases unless a federal judge postpones the wrongful death suit until the criminal case is over.

Corey Jones, 31, was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer, Oct. 18, 2015.
Corey Jones, 31, was shot and killed by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer, Oct. 18, 2015.

At issue, Marrero says, is the fact that while defendants in a criminal case have the right not to testify to protect themselves against self-incrimination, staying silent in a civil case can be used against a defendant and – in Raja’s case – result in a sure loss.

“Officer Raja faces the choice of defending the civil suit under the threat of significant personal exposure in the criminal case or exercising his Fifth Amendment right and losing the civil case in summary proceedings,” Marerro wrote.

Marerro in his nine-page motion Thursday said civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, who is representing Jones father in the wrongful death suit, plans to object to halting the case.

Clinton Jones, Sr. Sued both Raja and his former employers, the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Gardens attorneys back in July in federal court documents anticipated that Raja’s attorneys would ask to stay the civil proceedings until the criminal case was over.

Nouman Raja, charged in Corey Jones death, pleads not guilty

Ex-officer Nouman Raja, charged with the shooting death of Corey Jones, enters court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Ex-officer Nouman Raja, charged with the shooting death of Corey Jones, enters court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Nouman Raja, the former Palm Beach Gardens officer charged in the death of drummer Corey Jones, has entered a written plea of not guilty to one charge each of attempted murder and manslaughter by culpable negligence.

In doing so, the 38-year-old has waived an arraignment scheduled for Tuesday, which would have marked his first court appearance since the day after Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced his arrest June 1.

» RELATED: Full coverage of the Corey Jones shooting

The next scheduled court date for Raja will be July 14 before Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer.

According to his arrest report, Raja, who was in plainclothes working a burglary detail, approached Jones in an unmarked police van while the drummer was on the line with roadside assistance trying to get his broken-down SUV towed from the exit ramp of Interstate 95 at PGA Blvd.

In their exchange, caught on an AT&T roadside assistance line, Raja asked Jones if he was “good,” several times before yelling at him to get his hands in the air and quickly firing the first three of what would be six shots.

Jones, 31, was shot through both his arms and once in his chest, which is the shot that killed him.

 

Nouman Raja’s case assigned to Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer

060316+raja+first+appearance+04Nouman Raja’s attempted murder and manslaughter case in the Oct. 18 death of Corey Jones has been assigned to first-term felony circuit judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer.

According to court records, Raja – who was released from jail early Friday after prosecutors announced his arrest Wednesday – will be arraigned June 14 at the Palm Beach County Jail. But after that, Feuer will preside over all hearings in the case, including an eventual trial or plea.

Raja, 38,  was a Palm Beach Gardens Police officer working a plainclothes burglary detail when he shot Jones, a  31-year-old drummer whose car had broken down on Interstate 95 on his way home from a gig. He faces up to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge but up to life in prison if convicted on attempted first degree murder.

Corey Jones, who was shot on Oct. 11, 2014. (Post file photo)
Corey Jones, who was shot on Oct. 11, 2014. (Post file photo)

The case is easily the highest-profile matter Feuer has handled in her two years on the bench, although she has tried both a number of capital felony cases as well as cases against police officers accused of committing crimes on duty.

In September, less than a month before Jones’ death, Feuer presided over the trial of former Boynton Beach Police officer Stephen Maiorino, who a jury acquitted in the alleged 2014 rape of a 20-year-old woman while on duty.

Feuer was elected to a six year term in 2014, when she ran unopposed to replace Judge Sandra McSorley. Before taking the bench, she worked as a civil attorney and also as a civil prosecutor with Florida’s Attorney General.

 

Corey Jones shooting: Nouman Raja posts bail, will stay overnight in jail

UPDATE 4:25 p.m.: Nouman Raja will spend another night in the Palm Beach County Jail, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s official.

Raja has met his $250,000 bond set Thursday morning, but he remains in jail while his home is outfitted to meet the requirements of house arrest, the official said.

Ex-officer Nouman Raja, charged with the shooting death of Corey Jones, enters court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Ex-officer Nouman Raja, charged with the shooting death of Corey Jones, enters court Thursday morning, June 2, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: More coverage of the Corey Jones shooting

“It’s really just moving him from one cell to another cell,” the official said.

Raja, facing charges of manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder, is expected to leave the jail Friday.

— Staff writer Jorge Milian

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: Former officer Nouman Raja remains in custody at the Palm Beach County Jail while the sheriff’s office sets up a monitoring system at his suburban Lake Worth home, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

It isn’t yet clear whether Raja has posted bail, or when the monitoring system will be set up. Once the system is in place, Raja will be transported by deputies from the jail to his home, where he will remain on house arrest.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Palm Beach County judge on Thursday morning set bond for the former police officer who shot and killed musician Corey Jones at $250,000.

Nouman Raja appeared in handcuffs and blue prison garb before Circuit Judge Joseph Marx. Raja was arrested Wednesday and charged with first degree attempted murder and manslaughter by culpable negligence.

Other terms of Raja’s release: He is on house arrest with a GPS monitor, must surrender his passport, cannot work in law enforcement, must surrender any guns to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and must have no contact with the Jones family or with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.

Raja’s arraignment has been set for June 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Before Raja, 38, entered court, it was announced that prosecutors and Raja’s attorney, Richard Lubin, had reached an agreement on Raja’s bail.

Raja’s brother, Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Adnan Raja, sat in a bench on one side of the courtroom, while friends and family members of Jones sat on the other side.

This hearing comes less than a day after Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced that a grand jury had deemed Raja’s actions in Jones’ Oct. 18 shooting death unjustified, and that Aronberg’s office subsequently charged with the two felony counts for which he could face up to life in prison if convicted of both.

Raja was in plainclothes and drove an unmarked van when he approached Jones’ broken-down car on Interstate 95.

According to Raja’s arrest report, he never identified himself as a police officer and started shooting at Jones — who was on the phone with a roadside assistance call center — after repeatedly asking him if he was “good” before shouting at him to get his hands up.

Jones’ family members will hold a news conference at the courthouse at 11:30 a.m.

Alleged extortionist Shahid Freeman wants prosecutor off his case

MBOYNTON BEACH-050703 NPB F[2]A hearing will continue Wednesday in the case of a self-proclaimed community activist accused of trying to extort a former Palm Beach County schools chief.

Jury selection is expected for begin Friday in Clarence Shahid Freeman’s case, but that will only happen if Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley rejects Freeman’s quest to get the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office disqualified from the case.

Freeman says that the county’s top prosecutor, Dave Aronberg, has pursued the case against him for political reasons tied to a prior Florida Bar complaint filed against him in a case where he worked with a group of Brazilian immigrants.

After that complaint was dismissed, defense attorney Charles White said, Freeman went to then-Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Wayne Gent and showed him an anonymous letter whose writer accused Gent of having sexual liasons with subordinates at the school district.

Freeman allegedly told Gent he would keep the letter private if Gent would push a settlement of a dispute with a schools employee and use $895,000 in district dollar for a reading program Freeman created.

“There were ulterior motives for this prosecution,” White told Kelley Wednesday. “I believe investigating Mr. Freeman was optional…there were a number of ways that they could handle it, but they chose quite frankly and unprecedented step.”

That step, White said, was for investigators to outfit Gent with a recording device, which prosecutors say caught the entire alleged crime on audio.

 

Corey Jones family to hold rally at burial site

Corey Jones, a 31-year-old drummer and property manager, was shot to death Oct. 18.
Corey Jones, a 31-year-old drummer and property manager, was shot to death Oct. 18.

The family of Corey Jones, the 31-year-old drummer and stranded motorist fatally shot by a police officer last year, will mark the seven-month anniversary of his death Wednesday with a rally at his burial site.

The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Boynton Beach Mausoleum, 1611 S. Seacrest Blvd. Jones family attorney Kweku Darfoor last week said the gathering will offer a chance for Jones’ cousins and other younger members of his family to publicly express their grief.

Last month, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced plans to allow a grand jury to decide whether Raja should face criminal charges – a move that dismayed family members and community leaders who had hoped Aronberg would skip that process and use his power to charge Raja directly.

Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja shot and killed Corey Jones, 31, on an Interstate 95 off ramp at PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens on Oct. 18, 2015.
Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja shot and killed Corey Jones, 31, on an Interstate 95 off ramp at PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens on Oct. 18, 2015.

Jones, 31, was on his way home from a gig on Oct. 18 when his car broke down on Interstate 95 at the southbound PGA Boulevard exit. Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja, who was working a burglary prevention detail in plainclothes, drove up on Jones in an unmarked van and eventually shot him three times.

Raja, who was on probation with the department and has since been fired, said he shot Jones because he believed he was coming towards him with a gun.

Rally protesting Corey Jones case decision cancelled

State Attorney Dave Aronberg addresses members of the media during a press conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday April 27, 2016. Aronberg announced during a news conference Wednesday that his office would continue its investigation of former Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja in the shooting death of musician Corey Jones. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
State Attorney Dave Aronberg addresses members of the media during a press conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday April 27, 2016. Aronberg announced during a news conference Wednesday that his office would continue its investigation of former Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja in the shooting death of musician Corey Jones. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Community leaders have cancelled a planned rally Thursday to protest Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s decision to refer to a grand jury the case of the police officer who shot Corey Jones.

The event, which was planned even before Aronberg announced last week that a grand jury panel will decide whether Nouman Raja will face criminal charges by the end of next month, was to come just days after the group Anonymous threatened Aronberg with calls and protests of their own unless he changed course.

Community leaders advertised the rally to be held at the Palm Beach State Attorneys office but announced online that it had been canceled. As of Thursday, no new date had been set.

Raja shot and killed Jones Oct. 18 after the now-fired officer drove up on him in the off-ramp of interstate 95 at PGA Boulevard. Jones’ SUV had broken down while he was on his way home from a professional drumming gig.

The State Attorney’s office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies began immediately investigating the shooting, and the FBI joined the probe soon afterward.

Prosecutors could have concluded on their own that Raja should face no criminal charges but could have also skipped the grand jury process and charged him directly. Community leaders after Aronberg’s decision said they felt he should have charged Raja.

A Facebook post Friday from the group Anonymous Florida threatened to flood Aronberg’s phones and social media outlets with messages if he didn’t either resign or charge Raja by Wednesday.

Aronberg so far has declined to comment on the group’s ultimatum.