A former Florida police officer was convicted Thursday of manslaughter and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a stranded black motorist in 2015.
A Palm Beach County jury announced the guilty verdict against Nouman Raja Thursday morning, making him the first officer in Florida to be convicted in an on-duty shooting in three decades. according to The Associated Press.
Raja, 41, has been on house arrest since being charged with fatally shooting of 31-year-old musician Corey Jones who was waiting for help for his broken down SUV on the side of a South Florida highway when he was killed by the officer.
Prosecutors say an audio recording of the shooting indicate Raja, who was on-duty but in plainclothes and driving an unmarked white van, had never identified himself to Jones before the shooting.
They said Jones, who was returning home from a performance with drums valued at $10,000 in the back of his SUV, believed he was being robbed when Raja approached him.
Jones then reportedly pulled his legally-owned handgun.
Raja, who is of South Asian descent, then shot and killed Jones.
The former officer’s attorneys said he fired in self-defense.
Raja now faces life in prison.
In a statement, attorneys for the Jones family said the conviction showed “what can happen when prosecutors have the dedication to charge an on-duty law enforcement officer in the murder of an innocent black man, and what can happen when a thoughtful judge rejects a shameless ploy to use Florida’s questionable Stand Your Ground law as a shield against wrongdoing.”
“This verdict is a vindication of the good man that was Corey Jones, and an utter repudiation of a criminal who tried to hide behind a badge,” the statement said. “Though the Jones family will miss Corey for the rest of their lives, they can finally start to heal knowing that justice has finally been served.”