In the State of Florida, the last time a police officer was forced to stand trial for an on-duty killing was 1993. That makes Nouman Raja the first officer in the last 26 years to stand trial for murder after firing on Corey Jones in 2015. Jones, who was black, is one of thousands of black men who are killed every year by police officers in the line of duty. The question then becomes: What makes the Raja incident egregious enough to warrant prosecution?
Jones, who was a musician, had stepped out of his SUV after the vehicle had broken down. Raja approached him without a uniform. He was driving a white van. What happened next is a matter of contention. Raja initially told investigators that he had identified himself, but a recording of the incident revealed no indication that had happened. Additionally, prosecutors say Raja continued to fire on Jones, who had a concealed carry permit, even after Jones had thrown his gun away. They claim that Raja lied about that too.
During the incident, Raja, who allegedly never identified himself as a police officer, approached Jones who, fearing that he was about to be attacked or robbed, drew his gun. Raja began firing on Jones who was killed. Raja stands accused of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Is the Raja Case More Egregious than Other Deaths?
Not really, no. In 2014, Louisiana police claimed that a handcuffed black 22-year-old shot himself to death in the back of a police cruiser. A coroner concurred. The man, Victor White III, was shot through the right side of his chest and the bullet exited under his left armpit. Despite this claim, his hands were never tested for gunpowder residue and residue in the wound seems to contradict the coroner’s finding that the shot was taken at that close of a range. No one was charged and there was no further investigation into the death.
Yet occurrences like these in which no one believes the police’s accounting of events have triggered outcry over social media and more awareness of police brutality. Florida has been a location where many of these violent deaths occurred and this is due in large part to its controversial stand-your-ground law.
Raja Will Raise Stand Your Ground as a Defense
Raja’s attorneys will claim that Raja felt as if he was under direct threat from Jones and was merely defending himself. Yet Raja also initiated the confrontation for what appears to be purposeless reasons. Raja was investigating a series of auto burglaries when he approached Jones and a commanding officer instructed to him to put on his police vest if he confronted anybody. Had he put on his police vest, the situation would have likely transpired much differently, but it will be hard to get a jury to convict an officer, even a disgraced officer, with stand-your-ground protecting him. Despite his apparent lies, he was under direct threat.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Violent Crime Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a crime in West Palm Beach, the Skier Law Firm P.A. can help defend you from the charges. Contact us immediately and we will intervene on your behalf.