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Jury finds Fla. cop guilty of slaying black motorist

Friday, March 8, 2019

Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.

A fired Florida police officer was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder Thursday for fatally shooting a stranded black motorist, becoming the first officer in the state to be convicted of an on-duty shooting in 30 years.

Nouman Raja, 41, faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years at sentencing April 26, and could spend his life in prison for the death of Corey Jones, 31.

The four-man, two-woman jury deliberated for four hours. Raja didn’t react as the verdict was read.

About 25 relatives and supporters of Jones looked on, some weeping. One said “the sweetest sound was the click of those handcuffs” after Raja was led away.

They held a prayer circle outside the courtroom, shouting praise for the verdict as many sobbed. A housing inspector and part-time drummer, Jones came from a family of Christian ministers and was scheduled to perform at church the morning he died.

“Corey has been here – his soul is not here, but he is definitely here in our hearts,” said C.J. Jones, the victim’s brother and a former Cleveland Browns football player. “He walked us through this.”

Raja’s attorneys left without comment. His wife said an obscenity when asked for comment.

Prosecutors said Raja, one of few police officers nationwide convicted of an on-duty shooting, escalated what should have been a routine interaction.

Prosecutors charged Raja with manslaughter, saying his actions created the confrontation and showed “culpable negligence.” They charged him with attempted first-degree murder, saying that although they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt which of the six shots killed Jones, the second volley was a conscious effort to kill him as he fled.