Anyone who has been following police brutality incidents over the last few decades knows how rare it is for a police officer to receive a criminal conviction or any kind of severe punishment for their misconduct. Despite this uphill battle, a recent case in Palm Beach County resulted in an officer being convicted for manslaughter and attempted first degree murder. This is a sentence which could carry life in prison.
Palm Beach Gardens officer murders stranded motorist
This incident occurred in October of 2015. The victim Corey Jones was on the side of the road attempting to get assistance from a tow truck. His car had recently broken down and he was in the process of calling for help to have it removed from the area. Officer Nouman Raja of Palm Beach Gardens arrived on the scene and approached Jones when he was in plain clothes and an unmarked van. Their contact resulted in a brief verbal exchange between the two. Shortly afterwards, Jones was fatally shot by the officer. The audio recording from a roadside assistance worker became a crucial piece of evidence, as it recorded Jones’ last words of “hold on” before Raja opened fire and killed him.
After the evidence was presented and the jury deliberated, the panel of four men and two women reached a guilty verdict. This was the first time in the area’s history a police officer has ever been criminally convicted for a fatal shooting that occurred while the officer was on duty. Depending on the results of the sentencing hearing, Officer Raja will likely face somewhere between 25 years and life behind bars. There were a number of different stories of Jones’ family members as well as people who had witnessed the trial being overcome with emotion at the conclusion. Jones was well respected in his community, active in local churches, and had ties to some famous South Florida residents. His death and the subsequent attempts to bring his killer to justice weighed heavily on those who knew him.
The ability to be compensated for a lost life
In cases of police brutality that result in death, the family still has the option of filing a civil lawsuit regardless of the outcome of a criminal case. This is true even in situations where criminal charges or other disciplinary measures are never brought against the officer.
A civil lawyer may possibly bring a number of different claims for excessive use of force, negligence by the officer or department, or a wrongful death. All of these civil claims are ways that the law helps families pay for medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, and other non-economic losses such as the severe pain and suffering caused by an officer’s disregard for the life of another person. A wrongful death can even pay out an amount equal to the total wages a person would have earned between the time of death and retirement age. In high profile cases such as the Corey Jones killing, departments routinely pay large settlements to try to attempt to minimize negative publicity. Keep in mind that even in less severe instances of misconduct officers can be held accountable for their actions with the help of a skilled attorney.
Oscar Syger is available to provide legal help
For those who have been mistreated by the police, there are a number of options available. The Law Offices of Oscar Syger have been helping residents in Palm Beach County and the rest of South Florida for years. Oscar specializes in dealing with incidents of misconduct such as excessive use of force and false arrest.