Corey Jones' Father: "I Need To Know Why! Why My Son Is Gone Today!"
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PALM BEACH GARDENS (CBSMiami) - The family of Corey Jones and their attorneys say they still have questions as to why an undercover police officer shot and killed him while he waited for a tow truck on the side of the road.
Jones, who played the drums in his band, was heading to Boynton Beach on Sunday morning after a gig in Jupiter when his car broke down around 3 a.m. on the I-95 exit ramp to PGA Boulevard. Jones called his brother and then called a tow truck.
While waiting for it to arrive, Jones' car was spotted by Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja. The officer, who was dressed in plain clothes, was in the area investigating a string of burglaries.
Police say Raja went to check out Jones' car which he thought may have been abandoned. It is unclear what happened next, but police say there was some sort of confrontation and Raja shot, and killed, Jones.
At a news conference Thursday, attorney Daryl Parks said after meeting with State Attorney Dave Aronberg they still have a lot of questions.
"We know this officer was in plain clothes, we know that he had no badge to display to Corey. We now know that he (Raja) never showed a badge before he shot Corey Jones that night. Corey never saw a badge. So there are serious questions about plain clothes police officers and their interactions with the public," said Park. "For all that we now know, Corey didn't deserve this."
"How did Corey know that this was a police officer? Why didn't he identify himself? Why didn't he show his badge? He rolled up on him in an unmarked white van with tinted windows. He didn't know if he was about to be mugged, to be robbed, about to be killed," said attorney Benjamin Crump. "Imagine yourself on the side of the road at three in the morning, abandoned, waiting for a tow truck and an unmarked van rolls up on you."
"Especially, as we understand it, in South Florida with people impersonating cops. Three in the morning an unmarked white van with tinted windows roll up on you, a person wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap and doesn't give you a badge, give you anything. How do you react to that," Crump added.
Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin's family, said another question the family wants answered is why weren't they notified of Corey's death until late Sunday afternoon. Another question that remains unanswered for the family, according to Crump, is what prompted Raja to fire on Jones.
"They said the officer fired six shots hitting their brother three times. It's hard to understand because it just makes no sense to them, and frankly it makes no sense to me or anybody who hears it, because he was found some distance away from his car but when the officer comes up, he was at the car," said Crump. "It still boggles the mind as to what happened here."
Crump said they learned that Jones never fired a shot, even though he was armed and at some point ran away. They said he was found 80 to a 100 feet away from his car, his gun a distance away from him.
Crump said by all accounts, Jones was a good guy and did a lot for others so that makes it even more difficult to believe what happened.
"People from all over the country have been calling this family talking about what he meant to their lives and how they just can't understand this," said Crump.
"I need some answers, I need to know why! Why my son is gone today, why," said Jones' father Clinton Jones Sr.
Jones' brother, Clinton Jones Jr., said his brother's death goes beyond race.
"We don't see color. We was never raised to see color. Black lives, no disrespect about black lives matter, but all lives matter and my brother had plenty of friends, white friends, Asian friends, it didn't matter," said Jones.
Jones Jr. added that his brother "would not ever, ever, ever pull a gun on a policeman — never."
Jones' family and friends say the idea of a confrontation does not match the mild-mannered and quiet man they knew.
About 200 people attended a rally after the news conference in which Jones' family members and politicians demanded answers from the police and preached forgiveness.
The shooting is being investigated by the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office. Gov. Rick Scott has offered them the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney's Office if they need it.
Family and friends want an independent investigation. Many don't trust local police and booed a Palm Beach County commissioner when he mentioned them.
"I know personally the people doing the investigation into this. State Attorney Aronberg, Sheriff Rick Bradshaw. I know Chief Stephen Stepp," said Commissioner Hal Valeche as the crowd boo'd. "Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it."
The Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement that he intended to get involved in getting to the truth of what happened.
"I have talked to the family members and the attorney of Mr. Jones and at their request, have decided to become involved in seeking the facts, and based upon the facts, justice in this case. Though I will not be at the rally today, I do intend to be in Palm Beach County in a matter of days based on the request and guidance of the family and their attorney," said the statement. "The preliminary facts given by the police to the family are disturbing and troubling to National Action Network and we intend to give our full support to further inquiries and the pursuit of justice in this matter."
Raja has been with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department since April. Before that he was with the Atlantis Police Department, state records show.
Jones was a graduate of the University of Akron in Ohio and worked for the Delray Beach Housing Authority. Jones and his family are well known for their community service with the Bible Church of God where Jones' grandfather, Sylvester Banks Senior, is a bishop.
A benefit concert will be held October 25th at 7:30 p.m. at the Bible Church of God.
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