A Florida State Attorney’s Office report released Tuesday said the former Palm Beach Gardens police officer who fatally shot Corey Jones “lied,” the Palm Beach Post reports.
The 60-page report is part of a trove of evidence, including audio recordings, that The Post and several other media organizations obtained on the high-profile shooting.
The Post said, “The report was unsparing, and it paints a picture of an officer who made egregious mistakes and wasn’t truthful to investigators who interviewed him at the scene, with his lawyer present, four hours after the shooting.”
Officer Nouman Raja, who was fired from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, was on plainclothes duty while conducting a vehicle theft patrol in October 2015. He told investigators that Jones jumped out an SUV as he approached it on an Interstate 95 off-ramp.
“And the second I said ‘police,’ he jumped back and I clearly remember him drawing and … pointing a gun at me. I saw that silver muzzle, and he had, I can swear on this, he had a Laser Max laser and the guide rod on the gun, and I saw that red light, with that Laser Max flashing at me,” Raja told investigators in the newly released audio recording, according to the Miami Herald.
Raja said he ordered Jones twice to drop his gun before firing at Jones, who the officer claims tried to run away.
However, prosecutors have serious doubts about Raja’s story.
The Post said Raja was unaware that the investigators had an audio recording of the incident. Authorities released the AT&T audio of a roadside assistance call that captured the encounter. Jones’ vehicle was disabled, and he was waiting for a tow truck to arrive at about 3:15 a.m.
Raja swore in his statement that he thought the SUV was empty when he approached it in his unmarked police van. The officer also said he identified himself as a police officer and asked Jones if he could help.
The Herald said the AT&T recording suggested that Jones was waiting outside his SUV when Raja walked up to him.
He asked Jones, “You good?”
Jones relied, “I’m good.”
In a sarcastic tone, Raja asked, “Really?”
He then, using an expletive, ordered Jones twice to put his hands up.
The prosecutor said Raja, who never identified himself as an officer, was immediately confrontational toward Jones.
Raja fired a first round of shots at Jones, who ran from the car. The AT&T audio also recorded a second round of gunshots, which prompted an “oh my gosh” from AT&T operator who was still on the line. Ten seconds later, the audio recorded three more shots.
According to the prosecutor, Raja called 911 after Jones was likely dead and acted out a false scene for the dispatcher that supported his version of the encounter.
Jones, 31, was a Boynton Beach musician who worked as a building manager for the Delray Beach Housing Authority. He had been driving after a performance when his SUV broke down.
Raja is charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.