Corey Jones packed up his drum sticks, got in his car and headed home.
He had just wrapped up another gig in Jupiter with his band, Future Prezidents, and the Boynton Beach man was all smiles before he embarked south early Sunday, a band mate said.
But his car broke down just after 3 a.m. He wouldn’t make it home after that.
The 31-year-old Boynton Beach man was shot dead by a Palm Beach Gardens officer who stopped to inspect Jones’ vehicle, thinking it was abandoned, and a deadly altercation ensued, police said.
“I don’t understand,” band mate Boris Simeonov said. “Something seems really wrong here.”
Officer Nouman Raja, 38, was on duty in plain clothes and riding in an unmarked car about 3:15 a.m. when he saw Jones’ vehicle just off Interstate 95 near PGA Boulevard and stopped to investigate, according to a news release from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.
“As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject,” Officer Ellen Lovejoy wrote in the release on Monday. “As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm,” resulting in Jones’ death.
Police haven’t specified what type of weapon Jones had. And additional details about what led to the shooting haven’t been disclosed, pending an investigation.
The whole incident has left Jones’ family demanding answers.
“He was sitting on the side of the road and got shot,” said Jones’ uncle, Sylvester Banks Jr., of Clearwater. “We didn’t find out about it until about 12 hours later.”
Raja has been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy. He has been with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department since April, after working with the Atlantis Police Department, state records show.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, said things might have been different had the officer not been in plain clothes and an unmarked patrol car.
Jones may not have known “if someone was approaching to rob or mug him,” Jarvis said. In such encounters, it could be that “the person doesn’t realize that they’re being approached by a cop.”
Jarvis said what happened between the men might never be fully known because there were no cameras or bystanders.
“If Raja did do everything right, it’s terrible for him,” Jarvis said. “There were only two people and one of them is dead.”
Sometime before Jones was shot, he had called a family member about the vehicle trouble and decided to call a tow truck, Banks said.
Banks said Jones played the drums in church and with several local bands.
“Everyone loved him,” Banks said. “He was raised in church all his life.”
Jones’ family is well-known in Boynton Beach, partly because of their community service with the Bible Church of God in Boynton Beach where Jones’ grandfather, Sylvester Banks, is a bishop.
Jones’ brother Clinton “C.J.” Jones was an NFL player with the Cleveland Browns in 2003 and New England Patriots 2008 and a cousin of current NFL player Anquan Boldin, a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.
Jones’ aunt, as well as godmother, Sheila Banks, of Atlanta, said her nephew worked for the city of Delray Beach housing authority. Jones’ mother died of breast cancer seven years ago and his grandmother died last week, family members say.
His nieces and nephews are devastated and can’t sleep, she said.
“There’s a family reunion this Saturday and we were planning on [meeting for] lunch,” Sheila Banks said. “I’m just in disbelief.”
Like others in her family, Banks is waiting for authorities to release more information about how and why Jones was killed.
“We haven’t gotten any answers yet,” she said. “All we know is someone shot him.”
On Monday evening, church and family members held a prayer vigil for Jones.
Family members described him as a happy soul who had been playing the drums for almost all of his life. Through tears, some expressed the sadness and shock of what happened.
Cassandra Gibbs, Jones’ cousin, said she knows her cousin wouldn’t do anything to provoke being shot at.
“It feels like a sharp pain, like a knife,” she said.
During the vigil, everyone took hands, swayed back and forth and sang songs asking God to heal their wounded hearts. Church apostle Tommy Brown led the group in prayer, his eyes closed, his voice loud and powerful.
“We ask you Lord God to help. We ask you not only to help, but to heal,” he said. “And we ask you not only to heal, but to vindicate.”