A judge has ruled that the defense attorneys for Nouman Raja will be allowed to re-depose the state’s expert on police procedures.
Corey Jones’ Shooting
Nouman Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, is on trial for manslaughter and attempted murder in connection with the 2015 shooting death of 31-year-old Corey Jones.
On October 18, 2015, Jones was stranded on the side of the road and on the phone with roadside assistance. Officer Nouman Raja approached Jones in plainclothes. Raja was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a ball cap and driving an unmarked cargo van.
Jones died after Raja shot him three times. Raja claims that he clearly identified himself as a police officer and that he only shot Jones after he charged at him with a gun. However, an audio recording of Jones’ call with the roadside assistance operator contradicts Raja’s version of the events. Additionally, a 911 call that Raja made raised questions because Raja is heard yelling at someone to drop a gun, but medical examiner’s reports revealed that Jones was likely dead at the time that Raja made the 911 call.
The state presented W.D. Libby as an expert on police procedures. Libby has spent 38 years in law enforcement; 16 of those years were spent as a police chief. Libby has a law degree and is experienced in overseeing police standards.
In Libby’s report, he opined that Raja acted incorrectly when he approached Jones’ broken-down SUV while he was working plainclothes on burglary surveillance. Libby stated that, by parking in front of Jones, Raja left his vehicle “in such a position that it did not protect him or Corey Jones.” Libby opined that Raja should have parked behind Jones and called for backup.
Libby also opined that Raja failed to follow proper procedures by approaching Jones. Libby cited the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommendation that plainclothes officers “present proper identification. If requested, let the driver examine your credentials so that they are satisfied that you are a law enforcement officer.”
Libby stated that Raja acted in violation of supervisor’s orders by failing to wear a tactical vest, which would have identified him as a police officer. Libby said that Raja “did not verbally announce who he was, why he was there, or indicate police authority, violating accepted police practice.”
Raja’s attorney, Scott Richardson, challenged the consistency of Libby’s opinion. He said, “We felt there was an inconsistency, a discrepancy between what the state’s expert witness had testified to and what was said later in another deposition.” Richardson also questioned whether the state had been withholding information about Libby’s opinion on whether use of force was justified in this case.
Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer decided that defense attorneys will be allowed to re-depose Libby. Richardson will be allowed to ask Libby about his opinion on whether use of force was justified in this case, when he formed that opinion, and when he disclosed that opinion to the state. Libby previously opined that, “I do not believe the forensic evidence supports [Raja’s] version of events.”
Raja’s attorneys plan to file a separate motion to have Libby’s testimony excluded entirely.