Police officer Nouman Raja was ordered held in jail pending his payment of a $250,000-bond in a brief arraignment this morning, hours after he was charged with attempted murder and culpable negligence in the October shooting death of stranded civilian Corey Jones.
“The grand jury today found that the use of force by Mr. Raja was unjustified,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. Raja could face life in prison. He was arrested yesterday and is expected in court this morning for a first appearance.
In April, Aronberg made the controversial decision to put the case before a grand jury, rather than indicting Raja himself.
“If the officer cooperates and answers all questions, we then conduct an independent investigation of the shooting and there is the potential for a close-out memorandum to be issued and no charges being filed,” Aronberg said during the April press conference. “If unresolved issues exist and a close-out memorandum cannot be issued, then our protocol is to take the matter to a grand jury.”
At the time, the Jones family said it was unhappy with Aronberg’s decision. Grand juries have been historically wary to indict cops after they kill people. Famously, it was a Missouri grand jury’s decision to let former police officer Darren Wilson go scot-free that sparked the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
But Raja’s indictment shows that public opinion may, slowly, be changing. In another high-profile South Florida case, Oakland Park resident Jermaine McBean’s death at the hands of Broward Sheriff Office Deputy Peter Peraza also led to a grand-jury indictment.
The Jones family, meanwhile, issued this statement:
“We were relieved to learn that officer Nouman Raja, who senselessly killed Corey Jones, was arrested earlier today and will face charges for his reckless act,” the family wrote. “While we understand that nothing can bring back our son, brother, and friend, this arrest sends a message that this conduct will not be tolerated from members of law enforcement.”
Jones was a prominent drummer in South Florida. After his car got stuck by the exit ramp near the PGA Boulevard exit on I-95 on October 18, Jones called AT&T roadside assistance for help at around 2:30 in the morning.
According to documents released today, Raja — who was dressed in plainclothes — did not identify himself when he approached Jones’ car and eventually killed Jones. Raja has since been fired from the Palm Beach Gardens police force.