Florida has a long and awful legacy of brutality between its police and the innocent civilians they kill (See Paul Minnick – Homestead, FL 1953).
The latest victim is Corey Jones, an upstanding member of the South Florida community and dedicated musician who was dispatched to the Lord above by a point blank bullet from a cop who approached him in plainclothes, in an unmarked van with no radio, badge, or lights.
Corey was headed home from a late night gig when his car broke down on the side of the highway. The next moment he was gone. Here’s what longtime friend and musical collaboratorÂ Shaka Pace had to say about the life and death of Corey Jones, the perils of the road, and his own troubles with undercover law enforcement.
Jacob Katel: First off, my condolences for the killing of Corey Jones. That shit is fucked up….
How doÂ you know him?
Well I know him through the musicianÂ circuit. We’re all mutual friends musicians and stuff. I’ve known him for like 12 or 13 years.
What do you think of what happened?
I feel that it could have been any one of us. Any one of us musicians. We all work late and get off late from various gigs. We have to travel. Just last night I had car trouble and had to leave my car where it was. Fortunately it was in a garage at the Hard Rock where I was playing, and I got a ride home, but that was the situation. I wasn’t stranded on the highway like Corey. And the situation, man, the more information that keeps coming out, it makes me even more angry because I’m looking at this cop, the undercover car he was driving was a 15 passenger van. Yknow? Somebody in plainclothes with no badge, no radio, in a van…it just doesn’t add up. I can already see that the police are trying to spin this in a different direction, but my friend is not here to defend himself right now because some cop felt the need to take his life. They say the cop felt threatened….It’s a bunch of foolishness. Because if someone was to approach me at 3 in the morning and I’m stranded already, I would be apprehensive and defensive. But I wasn’t there and it’s like now it’s their word against somebody who is gone, and the cop is saying whatever he can to cover himself up.
What does the music community think?
Everybody is saying the same thing, “That could’ve been me, you, any one of us.” It’s like people are afraid to go to work now. Afraid their car might break down and something like this may happen to them
Do you think race played an issue?
I think it played a part when the cop saw that my friend was black. I think the cop was overzealous and overstepped his boundaries. I think it was a huge mistake on his part. He’s really supposed to protect and serve and obey his commands and uphold the law, and none of that was done. He didn’t act like an officer should. He was supposed to be on a stakeout, that he was on post somewhere and left his post without permission from his commanding officer. They’re saying he used his backup gun, that he had no radio, no shield. It’s not making sense. And I have a lot of friends and family members that hold high places in law enforcement and they say the same thing.
Can you tell us a little about Corey Jones?
He was a drummer and a really great guy. Real humble. Quiet. He loved gospel, r&b, jazz, fusion, whatever. He was a music lover. He played at his church and was at church every Sunday. And he played out in various places all over South Florida. The last gig me and Corey played together was at the Stop The Violence concert they had in Riviera Beach like 2 months ago. It was a positive thing to bring awareness to violence in the city. The mayor was there, commissioners, people in higher places in our government, and it was a benefit. And for this to happen to a friend who wasn’t a violent person and had no history of any wrongdoing, and no problems with law enforcement…..he had a good job, he went to school, he was what I would call a model citizen. He was a Christian. He loved God. And he loved to play drums.
What are the dangers of working late at night as a musician?
Man. Getting robbed late at night when you’re packing up and leaving. You have to deal with drunk and impaired drivers. Just getting stopped by the police. I get stopped frequently on my way home. A lot of time police officers have nothing better to do. They ask me where am I going, where am I coming from. But it’s not any of their concern where a person is going or coming from. If there’s a traffic infraction, then whatever, it makes sense to pull someone over. But don’t stop a person just because they’re the only one driving on the highway late at night coming home from work. That’s some of the stuff we deal with.
Have you ever had a scary incident with a police officer?
Yes. I had an altercation with two undercover officers myself, around 2007. I was actually at home at my residence and I had 2 officers in a Japanese car, I think it was a Mitsubishi Gallant, with dark tinted windows come down my street with no lights on…me and my family were sitting in our driveway late at night talking and sure enough this car pulls up on us and we actually got concerned. We moved behind the vehicles in the driveway. We didn’t know the two persons and asked them to identify themselves and they didn’t. So why were they driving down my street with no lights on, windows up, tints, not identifying? After the third time asking them, stuck between two cars in my driveway, I drew my pistol. Once they saw me draw my firearm they left. We were all like, “Who was that?” So while I’m packing up my chairs to take them inside my house, they called their commanding officer and made up some ridiculous story that I walked out in the middle of the street and pulled a gun on them and they came and raided my house. My house was entered without a warrant. They busted down the door. And I went to jail for assault and battery on 2 law enforcement officers with a firearm. That’s what I was charged with. They used terrible language with my family members and put guns to my 3 and 4 year old cousins. It was crazy. And this is the type of stuff certain officers do.
Were you in the Broward Palm Beach area?
Yes. Broward. Hallandale.
What happened with the case?
I had to get an attorney. It cost me a lot of money. For nothing. Once they reviewed my case, the judge dismissed it. He saw there were no grounds. They were 2 undercover officers who didn’t identify themselves. It could have gone a whole other way with a completely different turnout. But it’s officers like these who endanger people’s lives on a daily basis and it goes unnoticed.
That is fucked up!
I think everybody should have the right to defend themselves against anybody trying to cause harm against them. I know the officers have a tough job, but you have to follow the rules just like anybody else and that’s one thing some of them don’t do. They feel they’re above the law that they’re sworn to protect.
Have you ever worked the Palm Beach Gardens area, does this happen often?
I hear certain stories but it’s nothing uncommon.
What would Corey say if he was here and it happened to someone else?
Corey would pray. He would voice his concerns.Â That’s the type of guy he was. He was always a helping person.
How can the community support the cause of Corey Jones?
Bring awareness to the whole situation and keep calling up the police station demanding answers and let them know that we’re not gonna go away.Â We’re not going away. This should have never happened. This officer needs to be held accountable.
The news acts like it means something that he had a gun, but in America we have that right…
Corey was permitted to have a gun. That’s one thing they never did say. They do say that he purchased a gun a few days earlier, but they neglect to say that he had a permit to carry a weapon.
Are there any peace activities planned in the community?
Yes. There is a Peace RallyÂ tomorrow at the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department at 10a.m.
Any musical activities coming up?
All the local musicians are trying to put together a benefit for Corey. That’s something we’re still working on. It’s coming soon. We’re still giving family time to deal with the situation.
It’s beyond fucked up that this is going and that it has been going on for so long in America….
Us citizens, we’re paying for this everyday.