The Florida police officer responsible for fatally shooting a stranded Black motorist has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
This Thursday, Nouman Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder for the 2015 fatal shooting of 31-year-old #CoreyJones. Jones was waiting for help after his SUV broke down on the side of a South Florida highway when Raja shot him. The 31-year-old was on his way home from a nightclub performance on the morning of Oct. 18, 2015, when his vehicle broke down on an off-ramp of Interstate 95. Believing that he was about to be robbed, he pulled out his legally-owned gun. Jones had drums that were worth $10,000 in the back of his car.
At the time, Raja, who was an officer for the Palm Beach Gardens police department, was in plain clothes while on-duty. He was also driving an unmarked white van and never identified himself, according to an audio recording played at his trial. Raja was wearing a T-shirt and a baseball cap because he was on duty investigating auto burglaries, NBC news reports. However, he was instructed to wear a vest marked with “police” if he confronted anyone, but the vest was found inside the unmarked van.
Reports show Raja shot Jones repeatedly, and a medical examiner testified that Jones was killed by a shot through the heart. Raja was fired from the force less than a month after the shooting and was charged in 2016. During the trail, Raja tried to argue that the stand your ground law should have protected him. The infamous Stand Your Ground law has allowed criminals like #GeorgeZimerman to walk away free from a first-degree murder charge. SYG establishes a right by which a person may defend one’s self or others against threats or perceived threats, even to the point of applying lethal force, regardless of whether safely retreating from the situation might have been possible.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is on the legal team representing Jones’ family, said Thursday Raja’s sentencing is a rarity among cases involving police brutality against people of color.
“With the sentencing today, it’s a footnote in American jurisprudence but based on the fact that this is the first time in over 30 years that a police officer has been convicted for killing a black person in the state of Florida. It is a milestone for many black Americans,” Crump said. “Not only in Florida, but all across the United States.”