The family of Corey Jones, a Florida man who was shot dead by police while waiting for a tow truck, hope his death won’t be in vain. Family members say they want his death to spark legislation in Washington, D.C. that would attempt to end Black people dying at the hands of the police.
Jones was shot by Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja after his car broke down and he was waiting for roadside assistance. Raja, who was in plain clothes and driving an unmarked car, later admitted he failed to identify himself as a police officer. Benjamin Crump, the Jones family attorney, said Jones was a licensed gun owner, but never fired his weapon. His body was found several feet from his car, which indicates he was running away.
The Jones family said they intend to take the fight all the way to the nation’s capital.
“We’re going to go to Washington and not stopping until a bill is passed that’s going to stop this brutality,” said Jones’ uncle Steven Banks at the funeral according to Reuters. “I won’t let it go until they swipe the pen and change is made.”
Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy at Jones’ funeral. He said Black people were not safe from police violence anywhere.
“Now you’ve got Corey on a street named PGA, which means if we cannot stop this policing problem, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rich area, a poor area, a white area or a Black area, this has got to stop, because it’s going on everywhere,” said Sharpton, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Sharpton has also visited Staten Island, N.Y and Ferguson, Mo., where Eric Garner and Michael Brown were also killed by police in questionable circumstances.
The Palm Beach Post reported Lt. Patricia Brown of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office served as an usher at the chapel where the funeral service was held. Brown, a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said she thinks Jones’ death will serve as a “tipping point” in the fight against police violence.
“We see what’s going on. This death right here is the tipping point,” Brown said. “This family in their faith — they model how we should respond in a crisis like this.”
Brown said Jones, who was a church drummer and came from a family of ministers, was a “model citizen.” According to Reuters, family members are also angry at local law enforcement officials who have been slow to release information about the incident which happened on Oct. 18.
The Jones case has attracted the attention of the Florida legislature’s Black Caucus, according to The Miami Herald. Black legislators have called for an independent investigation by an outside agency. The case is currently being investigated by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.
Caucus members also called on legislators to pass a bill that would require police officers to use body cameras and institute automatic community reviews of police shootings. Efforts to pass such a law stalled in the Republican-controlled legislature last year.