The fatal shooting of drummer Corey Jones in Palm Beach County, Fl., has raised troubling questions about the rules of engagement when a legally armed motorist faces a police officer out of uniform late at night on a lonely road. Those rules could get even trickier, experts tell the Washington Post, if Florida lawmakers approve a pending measure to permit people with concealed-carry permits to openly display their weapons. “The police are nervous as it is,” said lawyer Roy Black, who has represented 100 police officers in use-of-force cases. “Everyone walking around with guns? It's going to be like the OK Corral down here.” Playing with a band meant Jones drove around with cash and “thousands of dollars worth of equipment.” Two years ago, he began carrying a gun for protection. Officer Nouman Raja, 38, was working a plainclothes burglary detail in a nearby hotel parking lot. About 3:15 a.m., Raja stopped his unmarked van near Jones's SUV “to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle.” Raja was “suddenly confronted by an armed subject” and opened fire, police said.
Jones’s family was told that Raja never showed his badge. Law enforcement consultant Steve Ijames, a former assistant police chief in Springfield, Mo., said the issue of identification has long been problematic, particularly for plainclothes officers. “I don't think it's unreasonable for a citizen at 3 a.m. on the side of the road to be skeptical of someone pulling up. I would be,” Ijames said. The problem could be compounded by Florida's permissive gun laws. The state not only permits concealed carry but also has a “stand your ground” law. That law has been successfully invoked in Palm Beach County by a man who shot and killed two young men outside a keg party. A judge determined that the shooter “used deadly force because he reasonably believed such force was necessary to protect himself from great bodily harm.” Tamara Rice Lave, a University of Miami law professor, said Jones may have been within his rights to pull out his gun, even without the stand-your-ground law.