The “stand your ground” hearing of former police officer Nouman Raja, accused of manslaughter and attempted murder in the death of motorist Corey Jones, will begin Monday morning in Palm Beach County, Florida. Raja shot and killed Jones on Oct. 18, 2015. Raja claims he was in fear for his life at the time, justifying the shooting. If the judge sides with Raja, the charges will be dropped. Otherwise, the case will move forward to a trial, where the decision will go to a jury.
According to police, Jones was driving in the early hours of the morning after a late-night musical performance, when he pulled off the highway due to a mechanical problem. He pulled over on the side of an off-ramp and called a friend and a road ranger for assistance. Both the friend and ranger eventually left, unable to help Jones get his car started. Later, Jones was on the phone with AT&T roadside assistance. A recording of the call showed that about two minutes in, Jones could be heard talking to Raja, police said.
According to the police report, at no point was Raja heard identifying himself as a police officer, and he was not in uniform at the time. After a brief exchange where Raja repeatedly asked Jones if he was okay, with Jones responding yes, Raja could be heard yelling, “Get your fucking hands up! Get your fucking hands up!”
Jones could be heard saying, “Hold on!” Raja then yelled, “Get your fucking hands up! Drop!” before three gunshots were heard within two seconds. About ten seconds later, the report said, three more shots were fired. Raja then called 911 from his personal phone, police said, and he yelled, “Drop that fucking gun right now!” after the operator answered but before they said anything.
The hearing will hinge on whether Raja believed he faced a risk of imminent death, which would have permitted him to use deadly force. Prosecutors will have to show clear and convincing evidence that this was not the case. If the judge sides with the prosecution, the case will go to trial, although the decision is likely to be appealed first, regardless of the outcome.