Florida policeman shoots dead popular black drummer, local officials claim he was armed

Corey Jones, 31, a professional drummer, is shown in this photo released by Florida State University National Black Alumni, on Oct 20.
Corey Jones, 31, a professional drummer, is shown in this photo released by Florida State University National Black Alumni, on Oct 20. PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - A Florida police officer shot dead a popular drummer over the weekend, with local officials claiming on Tuesday (Oct 20) that the man was armed with a gun he had purchased just days earlier.

Mr Corey Jones, a church musician, was killed in Palm Beach Gardens in the early morning hours on Sunday after his car broke down on the highway.

The incident sparked outrage amid growing attention over police shootings, especially of African-Americans.

Many of these have involved unarmed black men and boys, but Mr Jones was armed with a legally purchased handgun.

The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department has indicated that officer Nouman Raja was dressed in plainclothes and was driving an unmarked police vehicle when the incident took place around 3.15am.

Officer Raja, who was working as part of a detail investigating a string of burglaries in the city, pulled over when he saw Mr Jones' car, believing it had been abandoned, according to police.

"As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed suspect," Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp told reporters.

"As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr Corey Jones."

Mr Stepp said a handgun was found outside Mr Jones' vehicle, along with the box it came in when it was purchased.

"Paperwork showed Mr Jones purchased the handgun three days before the officer-involved shooting," the police chief added.

Relatives asked for support and sought signatures for a petition to stop "wrongful deaths".

"Early Sunday morning we had a family member to be wrongly gun down by Palm Beach gardens police Please click here and sign the petition," Ms Felicia Banks wrote on her Facebook page.

"There are things being hidden by police on why his life was taken!!!! He has never been in trouble, awesome personality,mild mannered, respectful, humble man!!!! We are seeking justice for him!!!!"