Members of the Florida Legislature’s Black Caucus want Republican Gov. Rick Scott to launch an independent investigation into the police-involved shooting death of Corey Jones in Palm Beach County on Sunday, and they say the tragedy is another example of why legislation is needed to improve transparency and accountability from local police agencies.
“Once again, another young black man has been killed by being someplace he rightfully belonged in our state,” said Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, the caucus chairman.
Scott’s office said he has offered the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to Palm Beach County authorities, but he did not commit to a separate state-level investigation.
“Our office continues to monitor any developments,” Scott’s spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said in a statement.
Jones, a 31-year-old church drummer and Boynton Beach resident, was shot dead at around 3:15 a.m. after an encounter with a police officer when his vehicle broke down on an I-95 exit ramp in Palm Beach Gardens. The officer, Nouman Raja, was on duty in plain clothes and driving an unmarked police vehicle.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department said Raja was investigating what he thought was an abandoned vehicle and when Raja left his own vehicle “he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.” Raja’s vehicle had no dash camera and he wore no body camera. The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department waited nearly two days before commenting on the shooting, after getting pressure from the local police union.
Although the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County State Attorney’'s Office are each looking into the shooting, Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, said “an independent and thorough investigation by an outside agency” — in this case, the FDLE — would help restore public confidence.
“This has to stop,” Powell said. “There’s no evidence that we’ve seen to indicate that this man was a trouble-maker. ... My community is frustrated and rightfully so.”