October 21, 2015

You know what I never worry about when my son the drummer has a late gig? Whether he'll be shot by a cop on the side of a freeway. But Corey Jones' family is now struggling to understand how it is possible that their son the church drummer is dead after an encounter on the side of a freeway with a plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car.

A police officer shot and killed Corey Jones after his car broke down on a Florida highway this week, his relatives said. And they want to know why.

Jones, 31, was on his way home after playing drums at church early Sunday when his car stalled along Interstate 95, his family told CNN affiliate WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach.

Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja believed it was an abandoned car, and stopped to investigate, according to authorities.

Raja was on duty but was wearing civilian clothing and driving an unmarked car, police Chief Stephen Stepp told reporters.

"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject," Stepp said.

"As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones."

This raises all sorts of questions for me, and most of them center on Florida's Stand Your Ground law. This officer was in an unmarked vehicle and not in uniform. It was after 2:00 AM. Corey Jones could just as easily have believed he was being attacked as that he was being stopped by a police officer, particularly if that police officer did not identify himself in some way.

While the official account at this point observes that Jones had a gun, it does not say whether or not that gun was discharged. If it wasn't, why couldn't this officer have de-escalated the situation rather than shooting to kill him?

Above all, it is yet another tragedy that seems to be unique to African-American communities. Officers seem to be trained to shoot first, ask questions later, especially if they're confronted by a Black Person.

And how does Stand Your Ground factor in here? Did Jones have the right to have a weapon in a situation where it was late, he was on the highway in a disabled vehicle, and was approached by an unidentified person? What if he had shot the officer? Would he have been put away for life, or given compensation for being tried for standing his ground under Florida's proposed new law?

The only thing I know for sure is that this was a situation where more guns didn't keep anyone safe, and now a grieving family and church family is looking for answers. And justice.

Can you help us out?

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