Records of Corey Jones’ last calls prove a Palm Beach Gardens police officer was “likely the aggressor” in an encounter where the officer shot and killed him last week, his family’s attorneys said Tuesday.
The records, obtained exclusively by The Palm Beach Post Monday, show Jones had dialed AT&T’s roadside assistance line six times trying to get a tow truck to assist him with his broken-down vehicle in the early hours of Oct. 18.
The last call, at 3:10 a.m., was 53 minutes, which indicates the line was still open when Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja said he was forced to shoot Jones because Jones charged at him with a gun.
Jones family attorney Skinner Louis says the records belie Raja’s account, and that Jones was laid-back, calm, and refused an offer from his brother, C.J., to pick him up from the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 at PGA Boulevard just before he was killed.
“He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t agitated. He just thought maybe he was calling the wrong number,” Louis said of Jones’ long wait to speak to someone from roadside assistance. “So his brother sent him another number to call.”
Louis says he and Jones’ family members believe that Jones, who was left-handed, likely had his phone to his ear when Raja parked an unmarked police van perpendicular to his car and got out.
Jones had purchased a gun three days earlier and had a license to carry it, Louis said, but he said Jones never fired it.
“At the time Raja parked… (Corey) probably put his phone down and reached for the gun with his left hand,” Louis said.
Louis was a high school friend of Jones’ and is now part of the family’s legal team, which includes famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. Louis said on Tuesday that the attorneys’ focus on Tuesday was to get answers from AT&T.
AT&T officials on Monday confirmed to The Post that they are cooperating with law enforcement on the case but declined to comment further.
The family attorneys also expected Tuesday to speak with Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg. They initially met with him last week, and prosecutors provided the family with details of the shooting. Based on that conversation, they believe Raja wasn’t using his department-issued weapon when he shot Jones.
Louis says the most important parts of the investigation at this point remains the sequence of shots Raja fired and where he was standing when he fired them.
Jones, he said, was struck by three bullets – including one that shattered his left elbow and fractured his arm.
“That would have separated him from his gun if he had it in his hand,” Louis said.
Prosecutors told the family last week that the gun was found in the grass between Jones’ body and his car, an 80- to 100-foot distance.