Former police officer Nouman Raja’s defense team has filed its list of experts for his upcoming trial for the shooting of Corey Jones. The list includes nine experts who have been linked to other high-profile shootings.
Corey Jones’ Shooting
On October 18, 2015, a 31-year-old motorist, Corey Jones, was stranded by the side of the road and on the phone with roadside assistance when Officer Nouman Raja approached him 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, “I came out. I saw him come out with a handgun. I gave him commands. I identified myself, and he kind of pointed the gun at me, started running and I shot him.” 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.
Raja was fired from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department and charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence while armed and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
The defense expert witness list includes Kimberly Crawford, a retired FBI agent and Northern Virginia Community College professor. In 2015, Crawford was hired by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to evaluate a Cleveland police officer’s shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Crawford’s report cleared the officer of criminal liability, noting that the officer had to make a “split-second decision” and acted reasonably in shooting Rice.
Defense experts Michael Knox and Michael LaForte are from a firm that specializes in firearm, ballistics and shooting incident reconstruction. Knox is the author of a 2012 book about the forensic evidence in the trial of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Defense lists Emanuel Kapelsohn, a board member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors. Kapelsohn gave an interview to Slate magazine criticizing a police officer who was celebrated as a model for police behavior when he did not open fire on a murder suspect who was running toward him with his hand in his pocket. Kapelsohn stated, “From a professional point of view, the officer made an extremely poor tactical decision and needs to be retrained, not commended…Whether Ferguson was going through his head, I don’t know. Whether Staten Island was going through his head, I don’t know. But an officer has to be prepared and trained and capable of shooting someone even though he doesn’t want to. This was someone who needed to be shot, should have been shot.”
Defense also lists Dr. John Marraccini, a former medical examiner in Palm Beach County who is now a forensic pathologist; Wes Carey of Legal Graphic Works; Brian Kensel, a law enforcement consultant in Valrico, Florida; and Christopher Chapman of Cranford, New Jersey, a police and law enforcement consultant.