Florida: Church drummer shot dead by police after car breakdown

A church drummer has been shot dead by a police officer in plain clothes after his car broke down.

Corey Jones' family has hired top lawyer Benjamin Crump of Parks and Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager shot dead by a neighbourhood watchman in 2012. George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, having been deemed to have acted in self defence. The firm also represented Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, after they were killed by police in Missouri and Ohio, last year.

Nouman Raja was driving an unmarked police car when he stopped at on the exit ramp of Interstate 95 in Florida in the early hours of the morning on seeing what he believed to be an abandoned car. Corey Jones' vehicle had broken down. He was carrying a gun he had bought a few days earlier.

Corey Jones, a church drummer, shot dead by a police officer after his car broke downReuters

"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject," Palm Beach Gardens police chief Stephen Stepp said at a press conference. "As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm."

Corey Jones, 31, was a professional drummer. He was on his way home after a concert. A hand gun was found on the ground which he had bought legally three days earlier.

Raja, who was investigating a series of burglaries at the time of the shooting, is now on paid administrative leave and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has launched an independent investigation.

Stepp said there were no police records showing complaints, disciplinary actions or internal affairs investigations against Raja.

However The Guardian reported that Raja had been threatened with suspension at his previous department after holding onto prescription drugs that he seized from a suspect and was reprimanded for being "derelict in the performance of his duties." 

The file was released by the Atlantis police chief Robert Mangold this week and published by the author Ray Downs.

In a statement released through Benjamin Crump, the drummer's family said: "Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing." 

They said: "He lived every moment to the fullest and was an inspiration to many; the kind of son, brother and friend people could only hope for."

Jones's grandfather, Sylvester Banks Sr, told reporters after the press conference: "I believe the best thing that can ever come out is the truth."