PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida — A police officer shot and killed Corey Jones after his car broke down on a Florida highway this week, his relatives said. And they want to know why.
Jones, 31, was on his way home after playing drums at church early Sunday when his car stalled along Interstate 95, his family told CNN affiliate WPTV.
Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja believed it was an abandoned car, and stopped to investigate, according to authorities.
Raja was on duty, but was wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked car, Police Chief Stephen Stepp told reporters.
“As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject,” Stepp said.
” As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.”
The death of Jones, who is black, is the latest in a series of controversial police shootings that have sparked nationwide protests and questions on race and policing.
His death lit up social media, with people tweeting demands for justice using hashtags #Justice4Corey and #CoreyJones.
Did Jones have a gun?
What led to the confrontation and shooting remains unclear.
Authorities said they recovered a handgun at the scene and paperwork showed Jones bought it three days before the shooting.
Officials have not said whether that gun was fired. There is no dash camera footage of the incident, nor was the officer wearing a body camera.
Search for answers
Those who knew him painted a different picture.
“Just really sad for Corey’s family. They lost an amazing person, a really special human being and my heart goes out to them more than anything,” Boris Simeonov, who was in the same band as Jones, told the affiliate.
Jones’ family said they will do what it takes to get answers.
“Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing. He lived every moment to the fullest and was an inspiration to many; the kind of son, brother and friend people could only hope for,” his family said.
“Rest assured, we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly why this plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car would approach Corey.”
Jones’ family attorney is Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Martin, a black teenager, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of charges in 2013. Brown was killed last year by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Raja has worked for the police department since April, and is on paid administrative leave.
In his time at the department, there are no records of complaints, disciplinary actions or internal affairs investigations against him, Stepp said.
A rally is planned Thursday outside the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.