Florida Officer that Killed Corey Jones Denied Bail Due to Possible Flight Risk
On Friday, Judge Joseph Marx wrote an order stating that former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja, 41, would be a flight risk if granted bond.
Raja, who began his appeal process after his April conviction, has spent all but the last 18 years of his life in the Middle East and still has ties there.
If Raja was to flee, it would be difficult to bring him back due to the United States relationship with Middle Eastern countries.
According to court records:
"The substantial length of Defendant's sentence and Defendant's vulnerable status in the prison as a former police officer are circumstances that the court finds would be very tempting and motivating to Defendant to remove himself from the court's jurisdiction."
Raja's attorney, Richard Lubin, argued stating that Raja fully complied with the terms of his house arrest while awaiting trial.
Lubin released a statement after the court's decision:
"We were disappointed that the Court denied Mr. Raja's request for an appellate bond. The Court acknowledged that the appeal of Mr. Raja's conviction is debatable and taken in good faith. Nouman Raja has no signficant ties to any of the countries in the Middle East and the undisputed testimony at the bond hearing was that he has not traveled there for 18 years. The court has possession of Mr. Raja's passport and the defense offered to surrender Mr. Raja's passport as well as those of the Raja children. Mr. Raja has strong ties to Palm Beach County and there has been no evidence presented that he is a flight risk. We will immediately appeal the denial of the bond."
The three arguments Raja's attorneys plan to make during the appeal process is as follows
- The jury was not instructed on justifiable use of deadly force.
- Insufficient evidence of attempted murder.
- Lack of proof of an essential element of manslaughter by culpable negligence.
In a letter dated Thursday, Jones' uncle, Marc Johnson, wrote the judge stating that there was no reason to allow the bond.
"Aside from legal eligibility, there is no reason to release him other than sympathy for his family. Nouman Raja is a killer. He certainly is not deserving of a release. He has already enjoyed nearly four years of freedom."
Jones' stepmother, Kattie Jones, was able to read a statement to the judge that the judge took offense to.
"To release him now would mean being an accessory to this crime," said Mrs. Jones.
"Mr. Jones, I just have to tell you that I'm very sorry for your loss, but I would be remiss not to say I'm a little taken aback by your comment that if I was to release Mr. Raja, I'm not saying I'm going to, that I'm somehow an accessory. I don't appreciate it," said Judge Marx.
Rahein Jones, Corey Jones' cousin also released a statement after the hearing.
"I would hope that he can come to terms with himself and find some peace in himself and stop fighting whatever lies that he’s going through. Whatever it is he’s going through, I hope that he would just come out and be truthful to to himself, to the community, to his family. (Raja's) family should know exactly what happened. They don’t know, and that’s why they’re fighting for him the way they are. They love him, just like we love Corey, and they’re going to fight for him in a way that any family would fight for a family member, a dad, a wife."
The rest of Jones' family released this statement on Friday:
"Our respect for the court and the court process has not changed. The maternal family of Corey Jones is built on the power of prayer and we have experienced that power. Through that power of prayer we have seen a fair court of Justice in this court process. We truly believe that the murder of our grandson, nephew, godson, cousin and uncle was committed and pronounced in the judgment of the court so our faith in the system will not waver. We feel that our family member Corey Jones will not have died in vain and we respect the power of the court. We are thankful!"
The last Florida cop to be convicted of thee same charges goes back to 1989 with Miami police officer William Lozano, who appealed and won his case reversing his charges. That reversal set a major precedence, which has allowed many officers to get away with murder. So it is no wonder Raja would appeal the ruling as well.
The shooting happened around 3 a.m. on October 8, 2015 after Jones' van left him stranded on the side of I-95. Jones was on the phone for over 50 minutes with roadside assistance when Raja pulled up in an unmarked van wearing plainclothes. Raja told the FBI that he identified himself before unloading his gun on Jones but the recording shows otherwise.
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 told the FBI that he fired the first three shots while on the phone with 911 but the recording shows that the shots were 33-seconds before Raja called 911.
Jones also had his gun with him which he legally owned. Raja told the FBI the gun was in Jones' right hand but Jones is left-handed. Two of the three wounds entered Jones' body through his backside, which is consistent of someone running away from the shooter.
Raja was sentenced to 25 years and temporarily being held in South Florida Reception Center in Doral as prisoner Q40330.