Two days after the Palm Beach County state attorney said he didn't need any help investigating the police shooting death of Corey Jones, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has asked the FBI for assistance.
In a tweet sent out late Friday afternoon, Bradshaw said he requested the federal law enforcement agency's help, because, “there is nothing more important, now, than a comprehensive investigation process so we can ensure justice is served.”
The FBI confirmed Friday night it will help investigate the shooting death of Jones.
On Wednesday, State Attorney Dave Aronberg rejected a call by the community, Jones’ family members and the state's legislative Black Caucus for an outside investigator, saying his office would conduct a "independent and thorough investigation." Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott had offered the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into Jones’ death but Aronberg declined the offer.
Calls to Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Jones family, were not returned Friday evening. Crump and the family had requested an independent investigation after meeting with Aronberg Thursday morning, and again at a rally Thursday afternoon in remembrance of Jones.
Edwin Narain, D-Tampa, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, endorsed the FBI’s involvement: "I think it's a very positive development and it sends the right signal that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office wants to have as much transparency in the process. It should help restore public confidence."
Jones, 31, a Boynton Beach musician, was shot dead at 3 a.m. Sunday on a grassy swale on the side of I-95 by Palm Beach Gardens Detective Nouman Raja. Jones’ silver Hyundai had broken down off the highway at the PGA Boulevard exit while he was returning to Boynton Beach from a gig with his band Future Prezidents in Jupiter.
Jones had called a friend for help, who came by then left, and let his brother know where he was, before deciding to wait alone in his car for a tow truck. During the wait, Raja, on burglary detail, pulled up in a white, unmarked van, and was out of uniform and without a badge.
A confrontation took place and Jones was shot dead. He was struck three times, once in each arm, and in the side, a shot that entered his aorta.
"We believe that was the fatal shot," said Adner Marcelin, a spokeman for Crump's law firm.
Jones’ body was found between 80 and 100 feet from his car. Police said they recovered a gun that Raja claimed Jones pointed at him, in the grass between Jones’ body and his car. The weapon had not been fired. Inside the Hyundai was the box it had been purchased in three days earlier and the paperwork for the purchase.
Raja, a Palm Beach Gardens cop since April, previously worked for the city of Atlantis Police Department. His union representative said the officer fired at Jones because he feared for his safety. Raja has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation plays out.
The shooting, on the heels of several other high-profile shooting deaths of black men during the past 18 months, galvanized the community and garnered national attention. On Thursday a rally was held in Palm Beach Gardens in Jones’ honor. About 1,500 people attended. A town hall meeting is scheduled for Friday night at the Tabernacle Mission Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
Miami Herald Staff Writers Kristen Clark and Jay Weaver contributed to this report.