UPDATE: Judge denies Corey Jones shooter’s bid to attend child’s event

 

Nouman Raja leaves court with his wife Thursday, January 26, 2017 after a hearing where he hoped to have conditions of his house arrest loosened to attend an event at his daughter's school. The judge denied the request. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Nouman Raja leaves court with his wife Thursday, January 26, 2017. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 8:41 a.m.: Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer denied Nouman Raja’s request to relax his house arrest this Sunday as he awaits trial in the death of a stranded motorist.

Raja, the former Palm Beach Gardens police officer accused of manslaughter and attempted murder in the Oct. 18, 2015 shooting death of Corey Jones, had asked a judge to release him from house arrest so he can attend a school event for his daughter.

See Post’s full coverage of the Corey Jones shooting

Raja’s wife, Karine Antonio Raja, said all the other parents sat her daughter’s preschool would be attending the event and that her five-year-old daughter had asked for both her mother and father to attend.

But Feuer, agreeing with Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis that the request should be denied, called the request “a slippery slope.”

“I simply believe that this just chips away at the importance and essence of house arrest,” Feuer said. “I understand that this is an important day in Mr. Raja’s child’s life, but I think the ramifications that were placed on Mr. Raja’s house arrest should remain at this time.”

Raja was arrested in June, nearly eight months after he approached the 31-year-old stranded motorist in plainclothes and shot him several times after a brief encounter on the off-ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Boulevard.

By then, he had been fired from the department and also let go from a job as a police academy instructor at Palm Beach State College.

Thursday’s hearing brought Raja face to face for the first time with Jones’ father, stepmother and brother, who did not attend his first appearance hearing back in June.

It also marked the first time Raja’s wife has spoken publicly since his arrest.

Feuer at the end of the hearing canceled a status check in the case set for next month and instead asked the lawyers to come back with an update on March 28.

The judge has said she wants to bring the case to trial as early as this summer, but prosecutors alone have listed dozens of potential witnesses that Raja’s defense team will be entitled to interview before trial.

Raja told investigators initially that he identified himself as an officer and only shot at Jones when he charged at him with a gun.

Jones was on the line with a roadside assistance operator at the time, and the recording prosecutors released recently in the case captured no such introduction.

In Raja’s June arrest report, prosecutors also noted Raja’s 911 call, where he repeatedly shouted to someone – presumably Jones – to drop the gun.

But prosecutors claim that according to Jones’ injuries and the time Raja fired his last shots, Jones was likely dead and certainly already on the ground by the time Raja dialed 911.

Raja has been free on house arrest since his arrest and is only permitted to leave the house for work, medical visits, dropping his children off at school and once monthly haircuts.

Chief Assistant State Attorneys Brian Fernandes and Adrienne Ellis in the past have balked at Raja’s requests to relax his house arrest, saying that Jones never had a chance of his own to have children and be with family because of him untimely death.

Raja’s attorney, Richard Lubin, has said that his client is presumed innocent and says he should be free from “a rush to judgement” in the case.

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.

Judge wants Nouman Raja trial to begin next summer

The next hearing in the case is set for Feb. 21, but in the meantime there are plans to interview witnesses.

060316+raja+first+appearance+04A judge on Wednesday set an ambitious timeline for the case of Nouman Raja, the former Palm Beach Gardens police officer accused of manslaughter and attempted murder in the shooting death fof 31-year-old stranded motorist Corey Jones.

Circuit Judge Samantha Schosbereg Feuer at a hearing Wednesday morning told attorneys in the case to come back for another hearing in February so they could hopefully put Raja’s case on track for a trial next summer.

But Chief Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes told Feuer that he has nearly 300 total expert witnesses on the state witness list so far and mus conduct dozens of interviews in the coming months.

Fernandes and defense attorney Richard Lubin told Feuer some of those witnesses live out of the area, so they will be traveling extensively through the rest of year to interview as many witnesses as they can.

The next hearing in the case has been set for Feb. 21.

Corey Jones wrongful death suit stalled while officer faces charges

060316+raja+first+appearance+04A federal judge has agreed to postpone a wrongful death suit against Nouman Raja while the former Palm Beach Garden police officer faces criminal charges in the October shooting death of stranded motorist Corey Jones.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt signed an order Monday granting attorney Oscar Marrero’s request to stay a lawsuit filed by Jones’ father, Clinton Jones, Sr., against Raja, who faces manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder charges for shooting the 31-year-old during a roadside confrontation captured on a roadside assistance recorded line.

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.

Prosecutors this summer charged Raja at the end f a months-long investigation and a grand jury session surrounding the deadly encounter that began when Raja drove up the off-ramp of Interstate 95 on PGA Boulevard in an unmarked van and approached Jones in plainclothes.

Raja later told investigators that he shot Jones because the professional drummer, who by day was a housing manager for the Delray Beach Housing Authority, came at him with a gun.

But prosecutors say they caught several inconsistencies in his statement, including the fact that Raja was overheard on a 911 call yelling at Jones to drop a gun when evidence in the case showed he had already fired the shot that killed Jones more than 30 seconds before he made the call.

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.

Corey Jones supporters to picket Palm Beach police union office

imageLocal protesters will be joined by members of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement Saturday for a planned rally outside the offices of the Palm Beach Police Benevolent Association.

The protest is over union officials’ decision to pay for the criminal defense of Nouman Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer now facing manslaughter and attempted murder charges in the death of 31-year-old drummer Corey Jones, a stranded motorist Raja shot and killed in October while in plainclothes.

A Facebook page for Black Lives Matter Fort Lauderdale showed a post dated Monday urging supporters to show up to the offices at 2100 N Florida Mango Road in West Palm Beach for a protest to begin at 5 p.m.

The protest was organized by Michael C. Marsh, a childhood friend of Jones and author of the #JusticeforCoreyJones facebook page.

Corey Jones shooting: Nouman Raja pushes house arrest changes

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)

By not allowing former Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja to attend his children’s school functions as he awaits trial in the death of Corey Jones, Raja’s attorneys say the state is punishing Raja prematurely and making him the victim of the same “rush to judgement” that harms black men like the one he fatally shot.

Defense attorney Richard Lubin made the claims in court records Tuesday as part of an emphatic continuation of Raja’s quest to relax some restrictions of the house arrest that has been part of his $250,000 bond since last month, when prosecutors charged him with attempted murder and manslaughter by culpable negligence.

With words that appear to indicate that Raja fully intends to take his case to trial, Lubin fired back at prosecutors’ objections to the house arrest changes, and accused them of pandering to the emotions of many in the community who have called for Raja’s arrest since Jones’ October death.

“Too often in our history, due to societal pressure, there has been a rush to
judgment, often at the expense of minorities, such as Mr. Jones and Officer Raja,” Lubin said. “Thousands have been convicted only later to be exonerated after they had served 10, 20 or 30 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.”

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.

The words come days after Chief Assistant State Attorneys Brian Fernandes took  hard line to a request from Raja that he be able to attend school functions for his 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

Attorneys on both sides of the case had previously agreed as part of Raja’s $250,000 bond and house arrest that he could continue to work at a tactical supply store, take his children to and from school and go to a barber once a month for a haircut.

Lubin asked for the additional time away from home Juny 12, two days before a hearing before Samantha Schosberg Feuer.

Fernandes fired back with what so far has been the most critical public words from the prosecutors’ office against Raja, saying Raja “killed a man he had sworn to protect.”

“Corey Jones never gets to participate in family functions again. Corey Jones never gets to attend school or camp performances for his potential future children, because he cannot have children,” Fernandes wrote.

Lubin on Tuesday called those comments inflammatory and asked Feuer to disregard them in making her ruling.

 

Corey Jones autopsy report released

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.

The gunshot wound that killed Corey Jones in his roadside encounter with Palm Beach Gardens Police officer Nouman Raja tore through his ribs, his aorta and both his lungs before coming to rest near his upper left arm, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner ruled Jones’ death a homicide based on an autopsy that began 1 p.m. on Oct. 18, less than 10 hours after Raja shot the 31-year-old stranded motorist through both arms and his chest.

Raja last month was arrested and charged with one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first degree murder.

Though records show the autopsy happened early on the afternoon after the 3 a.m. encounter, Jones’ family said they were not notified of his death until almost 5 p.m.

FULL COVERAGE OF THE COREY JONES SHOOTING

Nouman Raja’s lawyers postpone request for house arrest changes

060316+raja+first+appearance+04A discussion on possible changes to former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman’s Raja’s house arrest has been tabled for now, attorneys told a judge Thursday in the case surrounding the October shooting death of stranded motorist Corey Jones.

Full coverage of the Corey Jones shooting

Nouman Raja, arrested last month on manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder charges in the 31-year-old drummer’s October shooting death, did not attend Thursday’s hearing. Though he remains free on a $250,000 bond that includes house arrest, court records show his attorneys on Tuesday waived his appearance at the hearing.

Corey Jones' father and stepmother, Clinton Jones, Sr. and Kattie Jones, enter court for a hearing for Nouman Raja Thursday July 14, 2016. Raja, a former police officer, was arrested on manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder charges in the shooting death of Corey Jones last October. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Corey Jones’ father and stepmother, Clinton Jones, Sr. and Kattie Jones, enter court for a hearing for Nouman Raja Thursday July 14, 2016. Raja, a former police officer, was arrested on manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder charges in the shooting death of Corey Jones last October. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Defense attorney Richard Lubin had also filed a request for Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer to relax the conditions of his house arrest to allow him to attend some of his children’s social functions.

But Chief Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes before Thursday’s hearing filed an opposition to the request and asked for a full hearing on the matter.

“Corey Jones never gets to participate in family functions again,” Fernandes wrote. Corey Jones never gets to attend school or camp performances for his potential future children, because he cannot have children.”

“Such a request by the defense denigrates the true purpose of this prosecution – to achieve justice for the victim; to achieve justice for Corey Jones,” Fernandes added.

Feuer asked Lubin about the request at Thursday’s brief hearing. Lubin said he wanted to table the discussion for now, and on his way out of court declined to say whether he will pursue it later.

In the meantime, Lubin told Feuer that he’s just begun poring over the list of dozens of witnesses and other early information he’s received in the case. He doesn’t anticipate he’ll be ready to conduct witness interviews on Raja’s behalf until months from now, he told Feuer, adding that he expects he’ll need to find expert witnesses for Raja’s defense.

Feuer set the next hearing date in the case for Oct. 6.

Late last month, Feuer signed off on changes to Nouman Raja’s house arrest, allowing the 38-year-old to take his two children to predetermined locations and stop to get gas in Boynton Beach on his way to and from work. Feuer also allowed Raja a monthly visit to the barber, although he will have to coordinate the time and location with house arrest officials.

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.

Listen to Raja’s 911 call after the shooting (Warning: Graphic language)

Corey Jones’ brother offers sympathy to families of slain Dallas cops

Clinton "C.J." Jones, Jr., walks into his brother Corey Jones' funeral at Payne A.M.E. Chapel on October 31, 2015.
Clinton “C.J.” Jones, Jr., walks into his brother Corey Jones’ funeral at Payne A.M.E. Chapel on October 31, 2015.

The brother of slain drummer Corey Jones on Friday said the five police officers killed in Dallas Thursday had as much of a right to make it home safe to their families as his brother did the night he died at the hands of a Palm Beach Gardens police officer.

Clinton “C.J.” Jones, Jr., on Friday told The Palm Beach Post he felt deep sympathy for the families of the five officers left to cope with their deaths, which he attributed to “the cowardly actions of certain individuals” who don’t speak for the community as a whole.

“We are tired of these senseless shootings coming from both sides,” C.J. Jones said. “We as a community don’t want to fight or shoot with our good cops.”

Both C.J. Jones and his mother and stepfather, Clinton Jones, Sr. and Kattie Jones, have written open letters this week to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men in their thirties who died in police confrontations this week.

Corey Jones was four months shy of his 32nd birthday on Oct. 18, when he died in an encounter with now-fired Palm Beach Gardens Police officer Nouman Raja.

Jones, on his way home from a gig with the band Future Prezidents, pulled into an off-ramp of Interstate 95 at PGA Blvd. when his car broke down. He was on the phone with roadside assistance when Raja approached him in plainclothes from an unmarked van and began shooting after repeatedly asking him if he was “good” before yelling at him to get his hands up.

Raja, who said he shot at Jones because he pointed a gun at him, was charged last month with manslaughter by culpable negligence and first degree attempted murder. Clinton Jones, Sr. on Wednesday filed a wrongful death suit against the City of Palm Beach Gardens and Raja personally, saying Corey Jones’ death showed both fell recklessly short of their responsibilities to serve Jones and the citizens of Palm Beach County.

C.J. Jones on Friday reiterated public statements he’s made over the past several months calling for “good cops” to hold their colleagues accountable for their actions.

A former professional football player, C.J. Jones has said that he and his brother Corey developed a warm relationship with police officers when they grew up through their participation in police-sponsored athletic programs.

While he called Raja’s arrest last month “a victory for the good cops,” on Friday he encouraged law enforcement officers to continue the community involvement that endeared his family to them.

As for the families of the fallen officers, C.J. Jones said he shared their grief.

“It’s a death and we all will suffer the same way when we deal with a loved one gone,” C.J. Jones said, later adding: “Change will come when more people start caring about life.”