A fired Florida police officer was found guilty Thursday of manslaughter and attempted murder for the fatal 2015 shooting of a stranded black motorist, becoming the first officer in the state to be convicted of an on-duty shooting in 30 years, the Associated Press reports. Nouman Raja, 41, now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and could spend his life in prison for the death of Corey Jones, 31. The four-man, two-woman jury had deliberated for about four hours. One Jones supporter said “the sweetest sound was the click of those handcuffs” after Raja was led from the courtroom.
Prosecutors said Raja, one of very few police officers across the nation to be convicted of an on-duty shooting, escalated what should have been a routine interaction into a deadly confrontation. Working in plain clothes, he drove his unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp, stopping feet from Jones’ broken-down SUV at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. The prosecutor said Raja never identified himself and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. That caused Jones, a concealed weapons permit holder, to grab his gun and run as Raja repeatedly opened fire, they said. Jones, a housing inspector and part-time drummer, had been returning home from a nightclub performance when his vehicle stalled. He had purchased the .38-caliber handgun days earlier to protect his $10,000 drum set.