PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CN) - The undercover officer who fatally shot Corey Jones, a church drummer who was stranded on the highway, failed to properly identify himself as a policeman before opening fire, Jones' family claims.
During a rally held outside the Palm Beach Gardens police department Thursday, Jones' family members, flanked by high-profile attorney Ben Crump, suggested Jones went to his grave not knowing he was being shot by an officer of the law.
Crump said that after Jones' car broke down on the side of the highway around 3 am Oct. 18, undercover policeman Nouman Raja pulled up in an unmarked van. Officer Raja was not wearing a uniform, and he did not properly present a badge to identify himself, Crump claimed.
Crump said that during the confrontation, Raja discharged six shots, striking Jones three times.
Jones, who was purportedly armed with a revolver that he had purchased a few days earlier, "never fired at the police officer," Crump told the crowd.
Jones' sister Melissa spoke briefly at the rally and insisted her brother was a non-violent man, a licensed gun owner who had a weapon solely for protection.
She decried media reports citing Jones' arrest on a concealed-weapon charge in Miami-Dade County in 2007. The charge was reportedly dropped as part of a deferred prosecution program, and it was determined that the gun confiscated during the arrest was not owned by Jones, the family said.
Melissa said her brother's "character will not be destroyed."
Bishop Sylvester Banks, Jones' grandfather, echoed praise for the 31-year-old musician.
"My grandson is no violent person. I taught Corey to obey your laws," the bishop said.
"Take the cover off," the bishop cried out, urging Officer Raja to speak up. "If he's done wrong. Let him face his wrongdoing."
The Palm Beach Gardens police department presented its preliminary narrative of the shooting at an Oct. 20 press conference.
"Officer Raja was working as part of a detail related to a string of burglaries in the City. He stopped to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Blvd," Police Chief Stephen Stepp said.
"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones," Chief Stepp continued.
According to the Gardens police department, Jones' gun was found on the ground outside his vehicle.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is conducting the incident investigation, which has drawn criticism from those fearing a lack of impartiality.
"We are calling for a fair, impartial, independent investigation," attorney Corey Smith of the F. Cunningham Bar Association said at the rally.
Smith insisted he would be "more willing to accept [the investigation] if it comes from an outside agency," namely the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Department of Justice.
Crump, who gained national attention for representing the families of slain teenagers Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, met with the state attorney's office earlier this week to gather preliminary details about the Jones shooting.
Jones was known locally as a skilled drummer from the band Future Presidentz, and an inspector for the Delray Beach Housing Authority. He described himself on his LinkedIn webpage as an "excellent communicator," with a "high level of enthusiasm" for his job and a "natural ability to make bold, calculated decisions."
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