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Corey Jones Killing by Cop Triggers Black Lawmakers’ Calls for Independent Review

| October 21, 2015

Corey jones killed plainclothes cop

Corey Jones in an image released by his family.

Outrage over the fatal shooting of a Boynton Beach man by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer reached the state Capitol on Wednesday, as members of the black legislative caucus called for an independent review of the man’s death.

They also called for legislation that would put safeguards in place for future incidents, including body cameras for law-enforcement officers, dashboard cameras for police vehicles and automatic reviews of all police-related shootings.

Meanwhile, two investigations are underway in the death of Corey Jones, 31, a musician whose car stalled on an Interstate 95 exit ramp early Sunday after a gig. He was shot by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked car. Jones’ gun, which he had purchased three days before, was found at the scene, but it was unclear whether it had been fired.

“This has to stop,” state Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, said. “There is no evidence that we have seen that indicates this man was a troublemaker. He doesn’t have a record. My community is frustrated, and rightfully so.”

Prominent civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump, whose clients have included the family of Trayvon Martin, is representing Jones’ family.

Officer Nouman Raja is on administrative leave pending the investigations, one led by Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the other by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that Scott had spoken with Bradshaw and Aronberg, as well as with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, and that the governor had offered FDLE’s help with the investigations.

Black caucus Chairman Ed Narain, D-Tampa, suggested that a bill filed for the 2015 legislative session by Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, offers a plan for conducting an independent review.

The bill, which would have automatically spurred reviews of police shootings, called for creating a commission of 15 members appointed by the FDLE commissioner. At least five members could not be current or former law enforcement officers. The measure did not pass during the 2015 session.

“There are some times where there is some doubt and distrust by the community,” Watson said. “I believe this bill will get a second set of eyes and hopefully restore the confidence of our community back with our police departments.”

Members of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, as the caucus is formally known, said Raja was not wearing a body camera during the incident, nor did his van have a camera on the dashboard.

“If this officer had been equipped with a body camera, there would be evidence to show … what happened prior to the shooting,” Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said. “The evidence is now up to the officer, because Corey Jones is no longer living.”

Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who is running for U.S. Senate next year, also weighed in, calling for the passage of a bill creating a grant program to provide federal funding to law enforcement agencies to buy body cameras. Murphy co-sponsored the measure, known as the Police Camera Act, when it was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla.

“While there is an ongoing investigation into the death of Corey Jones, it is an unfortunate reality that all the details of what happened that night will never be known,” Murphy said in a statement. “That is why it is vital that law enforcement officers — including plainclothes officers — be equipped with body cameras so that when terrible tragedies like this happen, we have a real window into what occurred.”

The legislative black caucus also called for police training that includes an examination of racial bias.

Some of the mistrust, Narain said, was due to a lack of transparency by the Palm Beach Gardens police, who delayed notifying Jones’ family of his death or releasing the details.

“It is these types of delays and the lack of evidence that continue to create distrust between communities of color and local police departments,” Narain said. “It is a source of anguish and frustration for black people nationwide, and legislative action and enforcement appears to be the only proper remedy.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

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10 Responses for “Corey Jones Killing by Cop Triggers Black Lawmakers’ Calls for Independent Review”

  1. recipe for disaster says:

    Information is beginning to trickle out that the officer was driving an unmarked 15 passenger van and didn’t have a radio a uniform, a badge or a body camera.

  2. m&m says:

    He says “My community is frustrated” how about us tax payers who end up paying all the bills.

  3. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Good. This is just the tip of the iceberg of police violence, though. Recently, a free pass was given to the officer that murdered Derek Cruice, and there are lots and lots and lots of examples in florida that show how out of control departments in florida can get and how little repercussion officers experience when actually caught doing something illegal or unethical. Body cams are a step in the right direction of accountability, but periodic mandatory mental health reviews would be a really good thing. Also, something like south carolina’s SLED would be a really, really good thing and would definitely help curtail departments like waldo or miami gardens, as well as the rampant abuse that occurs in the department of corrections. It would be a good thing officers weren’t allowed to jump from department to department without any real records following them so that people like juratovic are passed over for hiring.

  4. ken says:

    Murphy thinks plainclothes officers should be equipped with body cameras. As the saying goes; you can’t make this stuff up.

  5. layla says:

    Each of these cases need to be reviewed. I think we are all living with the consequences of that not happening. Society cannot function unless there is trust.

  6. GM2 says:

    I think we need a few more facts here – subject supposedly had a gun – did he have a permit? Had the gun been fired? What was the officer’s supposed reason for shooting? How many shots were fired? Etc.

  7. anonymousay says:

    ah, well they’re equipped with guns even in plain clothes. Seems like they don’t have a problem concealing those from a bad guy. The same with cameras they find a million ways to use them and hide them in an undercover operation but when it comes to policing the police the fear mongering starts. Do your job and follow the law and you won’t have to be worried about a camera.

  8. Palmcoastresident says:

    These situations are all reviewed each and everytime, with the same review as a homicide, if the shooting were down the road from you. These are considered homicides (whether they are justifiable or not) is the question. The court of public opinion should shut their “ever speaking pie holes” until all of the evidence is presented and reviewed because this is what causes {“innocent” band member just “playing a gig” gets shot and killed by this evil law enforcement officer who signed up to become a murder at the start of his career and kill an innocent guy one night on the side of the roadway} this to turn into racial riots.

    Lets make a law about this? Really. If a law maker suggests this they should be slapped for stupidity.

    Lets have a review panel, again, seasoned homicide detectives from FDLE and surrounding law enforcement agencies again review the crediability of each situation as they present. Maklng a review panel is redundency that will not SOLVE anything.

    I say this, generally speaking, every single one of these shootings by law enforcement officers has or have involved individuals who are CRIMINALS and are BREAKING the law.

    The Shooting from SC was one of the more subjective uses of force, but still I say if the person was a citizen who was not BREAKING the LAW, he would never have put himself in the position of catching several bullets to his chest.

    The best advice ever: If you want to NOT be shot by POLICE, DO NOT PUT yourself in the position of being shot by a POLICE OFFICER. DON’T BREAK the LAW, go out and serve the community you live in, provide service to the elderly, help the needy in your community. These are all ways of not being placed in a position to a lethal case of lead poisoning.

  9. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Hrm yes I see, when a swat team gets the wrong house and shoots the homeowner dead it’s clearly because they put themselves in the position of being shot by a police officer.

    As it stands now, all an officer needs to execute you on the spot is the belief that you present a danger to him or her, and it’s basically unquestioned except in the most public of instances (and even then the jury is stacked). So until florida passes something akin to indiana’s amendment to their castle law to include possible threats by public servants, forgive me if I laugh at your naive belief that police are dudley dorights that somehow get equal and unbiased treatment under the law. Take a look at the couple in bunnell that got caught with drugs and were involved in a towing kickbacks scheme – they got probation, when anyone else would be in prison.

  10. Sherry says:

    The FBI is now investigating and it appears the victim’s gun was bought legally and that it was not fired. Here’s the latest from the Miami Herald:

    Those who are still (what is the diplomatic word?) “naive” enough to think that all any of us need to do to not be mistreated in any way is to completely obey the law in every moment of every day must live a delusional charmed life. . . perhaps one where everyone has the same skin color, everyone devoutly goes to the same church, has the same amount of money, speaks the same language, has the same education. . . etc. etc. In such a fantasy world, there would be no discrimination or racialism because everyone would be exactly the same.

    I have some questions and observations, based on ” reality”:

    1. How in the world was the victim, Mr. Corey Jones, supposed to instantaneously trust that the man who drove up to him in an unmarked van, dressed in civilian clothes was a police officer and not a robber or murderer?

    2. Why is it that our state has millions of tax dollars to give to sports teams but all our police officers still do not have body and vehicle cameras?

    3. Why is it that a black man with out any kind of record attempting to “stand his ground” when feeling threatened by an unknown, unidentified person is automatically assumed to be guilty in the minds of those commenting here? What if the unidentified police officer were black and the civilian were white?

    4. Why are the local law enforcement leaders resisting independent investigations?

    It will be very interesting to see the results of the FBI investigation.

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