PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- A South Florida city has reached a $2 million settlement with the family of a Black motorist who was fatally shot by a police officer after his vehicle broke down on an interstate off-ramp more than seven years ago.
The city of Palm Beach Gardens released a statement saying it had reached a settlement Thursday through mediation with the family of Corey Jones. The settlement is for the full amount covered by the city’s insurance policy, which the insurance carrier has offered to pay since 2016, according to the city's statement.
Fired Palm Beach Gardens Officer Nouman Raja was convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder in 2019 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the October 2015 killing of Jones. Raja was the first Florida law enforcement agent in nearly 30 years to be convicted and sentenced for an on-duty killing.
Prosecutors contended Raja escalated what should have been a routine interaction into a deadly confrontation with Jones, a 31-year-old housing inspector and part-time drummer.
Raja, of Asian descent, was in plain clothes for a Palm Beach Gardens auto burglary investigation team when he spotted Jones’ SUV at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. Jones was headed home from a nightclub performance by his reggae band when his vehicle stalled on a dark Interstate 95 off-ramp. He had a concealed carry weapons permit and carried a handgun, purchased days earlier to protect his $10,000 drum set, which was in the SUV.
Raja, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, drove an unmarked van the wrong way up an off-ramp within feet of the SUV. Prosecutors said Raja never identified himself as an officer and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja’s supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest if he approached a civilian. He didn’t, nor did he pull his badge.
Raja had told investigators he fired after Jones pulled a gun on him, but an audiotape of their encounter led prosecutors and jurors to believe Raja instigated their altercation.