Palm Beach Gardens cop Nouman Raja was sentenced Thursday by Judge Joseph Marx for killing 31-year-old Corey Jones in 2015.
Jones was stranded on the side of the highway after his van had broken down along highway I-95.
Last month, Raja was convicted of attempted murder and manslaughter in Jones’ death.
Today, Judge Marx sentenced officer Raja to 25 years for each count.
The 25 year sentences will be ran concurrently, according to WSVN.
Initially, when the incident occurred, officer Raja claimed he was the victim and tried to use Florida’s “stand your ground” defense — the same law that enabled George Zimmerman’s acquittal after killing Trayvon Martin during a scuffle.
But after hearing the facts of officer Raja’s claims, Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer determined Raja was the actual aggressor when he shot and killed Jones, and she denied his motions.
Jones was just a motorist trying to fix his broken down van.
And that meant Raja was still eligible to face attempted murder and manslaughter charges for killing Jones, as we reported about in 2018.
In a 27-page ruling filed June 1, judge Feuer wrote Raja’s version of the story about the events that led up to the shooting were “unreliable and not credible” based on evidence submitted to the court.
It happened October 8, 2015 at around 3 a.m. after Jones van broke down along I-95.
Jones, a housing inspector and church musician, had a license to carry a legally owned handgun with him.
Jones had a handgun on him as he spoke on the phone with roadside assistance seeking help with his mechanical troubles.
That’s when Raja rolled up wearing plain clothes, driving and unmarked van.
Raja’s version of the story was that he identified himself as a police officer.
However, an audio recording released by the F.B.I. of Jones speaking with roadside assistance tells a different tale.
Jones: “No, I’m good. Yeah, I’m good.”
Defendant: “Get your fuckin’ hands up! Get your fuckin’ hands up!”
Jones: “Hold on.”
Defendant: “Get your fuckin’ hands up! Drop.” (Three gunshots heard) (Car door open bell heard) Defendant: “Drop it!” (Three gunshots heard)
Raja says he fired his first shots at Jones while he was on the phone with 911.
But according to the F.B.I.’s audio recording, the first rounds were fired 33-seconds before the call to 911.
In his initial version of the story, Raja claimed Jones held the gun at him in his right hand.
However, Jones was left-handed, according to all of his friends and family.
Less than a month after Jones’ death, Raja was fired from the department and later charged.
In order for stand your ground to apply to cases”he or she must reasonably believe it is necessary” to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm,”
“Two of the three wounds entered through the back side of Jones, consistent with someone who is running away from the shooter,” Judge Feuer wrote in her 2018 decision.
Michael C. Marsh, Corey Jones’ friend, was skeptical there’d be any justice back in 2018.
“The data is out there that we don’t arrest cops, and when we do we surely don’t convict them,” Marsh posted on his Facebook page.
“Though it’s a small victory, it’s not a huge win.”
Today, the Jones family expressed thanks during a news conference, according to WPTV.
“We got justice, and that was the most important thing. We just wanted the truth,” Corey Jones’ brother, C.J. Jones, said.
“We can help other people who are getting injustices too and be there for them.”
C.J. Jones said he would like to thank all of his family’s supporters, including police officers from around the world.”
“The support from everybody, from the policemen, from all around the world. We knew Corey was innocent from day one,” C.J. said.
“I would like to thank all the supporters.”
Listen to the audio from the FBI in the video above.