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: Bryan Augustin GUILTY of lesser charge in 2014 stabbing

bryan-augustinA Palm Beach County jury on Friday convicted a 20-year-old Riviera Beach man of second-degree murder for the November 2014 stabbing death of his niece’s mother after an argument at his family’s home.

The only question for jurors in Bryan Augustin’s trial this week was whether he was acting with premeditation when he stabbed 17-year-old Kayla Storey to death.

Assistant State Attorneys Jill Richstone and Reid Scott told jurors that Augustin walked into the kitchen with the intent to kill the teen, who had a then-infant daughter with Augustin’s brother, because the two had argued earlier over a gun missing from the house.

Assistant Public Defender Noble Parsons acknowledged that Augustin killed Storey in front of his mother, Myriam, and Storey’s then 12-year-old sister Kiersten, but said prosecutors couldn’t prove it was premeditated.

After several hours of deliberation that began late Thursday, jurors ultimately sided with Parsons, convicting Augustin of second-degree murder, though they convicted him as charged of a related armed aggravated battery charge.

Augustin, who was just days shy of his 19th birthday at the time of the stabbing, could still face up to life in prison when Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson sentences him Nov. 18. The life sentence would have been mandatory had he been convicted of first-degree murder, but under the second-degree murder charge the minimum sentence is 25 years in prison.

Riviera Beach man on trial for 2014 alleged retaliation murder

Corey Jackson
Corey Jackson

A trial began Monday for a 26-year-old accused of shooting a man five times in Riviera Beach nearly two years ago after accusing the victim of having pointed a gun at him.

Corey Jackson, 26, turned down a last-minute plea offer from prosecutors, according to court records, opting to stand trial instead for the Nov. 20, 2014 murder of 29-year-old Paul Johnson.

A witness told police that when Paul Johnson got out of his car that afternoon in the 1100 Block of West 31st Street, Jackson was standing on the other side of the roadway and repeatedly called Johnson over to him.

They met in the roadway, witnesses said, and Jackson allegedly questions Johnson about whether he had pointed a gun at him. One witness said Jackson referenced the gun incident as having happened a day earlier, another told police the shooter merely mentioned a prior date.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson

Johnson, they said, denied the shooting, and according to one witness Jackson told him a woman connected to Johnson had told him differently. The exchange ended in gunfire, and police found Johnson shot five times.

Johnson was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

In addition to first-degree murder, Jackson – who has a 2008 conviction for a felony marijuana sales charge – is facing a felony gun possession charge.

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.