The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., police officer who fatally shot a stranded motorist earlier this month may not have been qualified for the undercover surveillance assignment that he was supposedly conducting, Yahoo! News reports.
Corey Jones, 31, a church musician and public housing inspector, was waiting for a tow truck after his car broke down around 3:15 a.m. Oct. 18 when he was shot multiple times by Officer Nouman Raja.
Police say that Raja claims that he was "suddenly confronted by an armed subject" when he fatally shot Jones. Jones had a concealed gun that he was licensed to carry, and as attorney Benjamin Crump has noted, he likely did not know that he was being engaged by an officer because Raja reportedly never displayed his badge, was in plain clothes and approached Jones from an unmarked van.
Police Chief Stephen Stepp said that Raja was conducting surveillance on suspected burglaries when he approached Jones.
According to Yahoo! News, however, department policy states that surveillance operations should be carried out by tactical officers or detectives. Raja, who had been with the department for only about six months, was still on probation and had been assigned to patrol. There is nothing indicating other duties in his personnel file, the site notes.
“It looks like they assigned an untrained officer to conduct surveillance,” police-practices consultant Chuck Drago told Yahoo! News. “Surveillance is an art and it takes training and practice. I think the PD will have to explain the use of an untrained officer in such a position.”
The site notes that Stepp did not respond to its requests for comment.
Raja came to Palm Beach Gardens with seven years of prior experience with the Atlantis, Fla., Police Department, where Raja reportedly trained new officers, taught firearms and maintained video systems in squad cars. The application he gave to Palm Beach Gardens does not list experience with detective work or surveillance, Yahoo! News reports.
Read more at Yahoo! News.