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Family Of 31-Year-Old Fatally Shot By Police Officer Demands Answers

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Corey Jones was a drummer in his church band. The African-American man was 31 years old when he was killed by a police officer last weekend in South Florida. The Sheriff's office and state attorney in Florida's Palm Beach County are investigating. And as NPR's Greg Allen reports, the case is starting to get national attention.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Early Sunday morning, Corey Jones was on his way home from a gig with a reggae band when his car broke down on I-95. Sometime later, Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja stopped to investigate. Raja was in plainclothes driving an unmarked vehicle. Palm Beach Gardens' police chief, Stephen Stepp, says when he stopped, Raja thought the car was abandoned.

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CHIEF STEPHEN STEPP: As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.

ALLEN: Stepp says police recovered a gun at the scene they believed belonged to Jones. There wasn't a dashboard on Raja's vehicle, and Palm Beach Gardens doesn't use body cameras. After the shooting, Raja was placed on paid administrative leave and the investigation turned over to the County Sheriff's office. Jones's grandfather, Sylvester Banks, says he and other family members want answers from the police beginning with Officer Raja.

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SYLVESTER BANKS: I would plead to him to tell the truth. The truth is going to make you free.

ALLEN: Today, members of the Black Caucus in the Florida Legislature called on Governor Rick Scott to launch an independent investigation of the shooting. Jones' family has hired attorney Benjamin Crump. On CNN today, Crump called on police to release more information on the circumstances that led up to Jones's fatal shooting.

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BENJAMIN CRUMP: He was on - in the median of that road at 3 a.m. waiting for the tow truck, just like he had got off the phone with his brother a few minutes ago, just waiting. There is no reason he should be dead.

ALLEN: A rally on behalf of Jones and his family is planned tomorrow in Palm Beach Gardens. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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