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To Keep 'Legacy Alive,' Corey Jones' Family Advocates On Behalf Of Body Cameras Bill

Sascha Cordner
Melissa, Corey Jones' sister, is getting ready to speak to reporters, while Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park)[far left], the sponsor of the body cameras bill, Tallahassee Attorney Benjamin Crump, representing the family, and her father, Clinton, look on.

The family of Corey Jones is advocating on behalf of a body cameras bill making its way through the Florida Legislature. Jones is the South Florida man killed by a plainclothes police officer months ago.

Clinton Jones Sr. says he misses his son dearly—whether it’s going bass fishing, or working with his son Corey every Friday, the way they used to do

“Not only am I a Pastor, but I renovate houses,” he said. “And, on Friday, it’s basically a ‘me and Corey Day.’ That’s the day, when he’s off his job and he goes to work for me. And, I don’t have that anymore, so it’s very difficult for me. Friday is one of my worse days because my son is not there to help me, to work with me, and to just share that time. I don’t have him anymore. So, it’s very difficult for the family.”

Jones’ father says he’s still seeking answers into what happened when his son’s car was stalled on the road early in the morning in October. Palm Beach Gardens police say officer Nouman Raja—the plainclothes officer in an unmarked van—was checking out what he thought was an abandoned vehicle. With no camera footage, it’s unclear what led to his shooting of Jones,’ but multiple agencies are investigating.

And, the family is being represented by Tallahassee attorneys Daryl Parks and Benjamin Crump.

“Imagine how vulnerable you would feel and an unmarked white van pulls up and a stranger in jeans and T-Shirt in a baseball cap runs up on you, and you’re supposed to acquiesce and say ‘this is the police,’” said Crump. “Corey, we believe that he [thought he] was about to be robbed, manhandled, killed, we don’t know. We know that Corey never, ever did anything to cause this upon himself and so they want answers.”

A group of Florida Congressmen and women are sponsoring federal legislation called “Corey’s Law” to make sure no grant funds are given to law enforcement agencies that allow plainclothes officers to make routine traffic stops.

There’s also a body cameras-related bill in the Florida legislature to make sure law enforcement agencies that have body cameras have standard rules and procedures in place for using the cameras.

So, Wednesday, Clinton Jones trekked to Tallahassee with his family to show their support for that measure. Wednesday also would have been the 32nd birthday of Corey Jones.

“So, I’m here on behalf of my son, Corey,” said Clinton Jones. “It’s hard. But, I have to fight.”

And, Kattie Jones—Corey’s stepmother—says they just want justice for their son.

“Had body cameras been place when our son was killed, we’d have answers to our granddaughters that are asking us, ‘when is Uncle Corey coming home? Why can’t Uncle Corey come home?’ The activity, games that they shared…that can no longer happen anymore,” she said.

And, Melissa, Corey’s sister, says she, like her family, want to make sure to keep Corey’s legacy alive, and the bill will do that.

“I don’t understand how this could happen to my brother,” said Melissa. “This could have been your brother, your sister, your uncle, your mother, but this is my brother. And, we don’t have the answers that we need right now, but we’re pushing for his legacy to live on. We want Corey’s Law to be implemented, not just for my family, and I mean what I say, this is for everyone because every life matters in this case.”

While the state House bill is not called “Corey’s Law,” Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) says he’ll likely make that change to his body cameras bill.

The bill by Rep. Jones—no relation to the family—is slated for its last House committee hearing Thursday. Its Senate companion just passed its first committee earlier this week.

“And, I stand here today with the Jones family, knowing that I too have two brothers, and I cannot even imagine the feeling that they are going through right now, knowing that they’re brother is dead, knowing that we as a legislature hold the responsibility to make sure this law is passed and the Governor signs it,” said the state lawmaker.

This is the second year the bills are coming up in the legislature, after they failed amid a budget impasse between the House and Senate last year. The original bill was a mandate—which Rep. Jones says he wishes was in place.

“And, there was a lot of pushback on it, but now considering how everything has started happening, we have a lot of the legislators and some of the Sheriffs Associations who want to make this mandatory,” he added.

Corey Jones’ family had also come to the Capitol to deliver a letter to Governor Rick Scott, pleading with him about the importance of the legislation. Last year, Scott signed Jones’ other body cameras bill into law, providing a public records exemption for the body camera recordings.

And, after delivering the letter, Jones’ family later marked Corey’s birthday with the release of 32 black and white balloons outside the Capitol building.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.