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‘Pain is no easier to bear’: Friends, family mark Corey Jones milestone

Tuesday marked one year since Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja shot and killed Corey Jones on the side of Interstate 95.

The day was painfully emotional for Clinton Jones Sr. — Corey’s 57-year-old father — and caused him to recall the many family functions held during the past year without the presence of his son. At those gatherings, an empty seat is left at the dinner table.

“Nothing is the same without Corey,” Jones Sr. said.

» RELATED: Timeline of the Corey Jones shooting

Family and friends congregated Tuesday for a short ceremony at the Boynton Beach Mausoleum, where Jones is interred. After brief speeches by family members and clergy, about a dozen silver-and-black balloons — the colors worn by the NFL’s Oakland Raiders favored by Jones — were released.

“It’s been a whole year and it’s still fresh,” said C.J. Jones, Corey’s 36-year-old brother. “Corey would be here if it wasn’t for somebody’s carelessness. We all know who he is.”

Raja was fired by Palm Beach Gardens police shortly after the shooting then charged in June with manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree murder with a firearm.

Jones, a musician in a reggae band, was returning home from a gig in Jupiter when his SUV broke down, stranding him on the I-95 southbound exit ramp for PGA Boulevard.

» RELATED: Read the arrest report

Raja, who was not in uniform and driving an unmarked van, shot Jones three times, including a fatal shot near the heart. Jones was speaking to a roadside assistance operator when the confrontation with Raja took place. The call, which included Raja’s brief confrontation with Jones, was recorded.

Raja, on house arrest, will make an appearance in court Wednesday as part of a scheduled status check. A trial date has not been set.

Asked if the family was becoming impatient with the pace of events, Jones Sr. said: “We want justice but we want a righteous justice. We don’t want anything rushed. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We have faith in the justice system.”

Jones’ family announced Tuesday that it will award two college scholarships in Corey Jones’ memory to local high school seniors beginning with the current school year. The money for the scholarships was raised as part of the GoFundMe account set up after Jones’ death.

One scholarship will go to a student who plans on majoring in music and fine arts. The second scholarship is slated for someone planning on studying criminology “to train a good police officer who will protect and serve with integrity and better judgment than our son [was] afforded,” said Kattie Jones, Corey’s stepmother.

“Although it’s been one year since he was taken from us, the pain hasn’t been any easier to bare,” Kattie Jones said. “We are still holding on and holding out for justice for our son.”

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