I have been an attorney for ten years. For eight of those years, I practiced in the field of criminal defense, specifically as a Public Defender. There have been a few cases in recent years concerning the killing of unarmed black men and boys that have challenged my belief in the criminal justice system and whether the defense side is where I should be. During those times, I wished I could be a prosecutor to charge and try those officers who have unjustifiably killed my brothers while in the line of duty. However, none of those cases reached as close to home as the death of Corey Jones.
I, along with many others, have waited for three years for this trial to begin. I watched the entirety of the trial from my office and I watched in bated breath for the verdict to come in. When the verdict was announced, I let out a scream that shocked even myself. This was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I did not know Corey, but he represented so many black and brown men in my life. His life was snatched from him in a manner that was so unnecessary and could have been avoided if Raja had just minded his business or left Corey alone when he said that he was fine. But because our blackness has been weaponized by many and is automatically seen as a threat, Corey was not treated with respect. Ms. Adrienne Ellis, the prosecutor, said it best when she told the jury that Raja did not give Corey the same respect that he gave to a dog when he presented his badge to them. He aggressively approached Corey and antagonized a situation that resulted in Corey’s death.
What this verdict did, for me, was reestablish my faith in the system. The jury was all white and the question was whether an all white jury would convict an officer for killing a black man. These jurors today said, yes! Yes, we can and we will convict an officer when that officer unjustifiably shoots and kills someone – a black man.
This verdict says to me and other black and brown people like me, I see you; I hear you. Thank you.
The lawyer in me understands that this case is not over. There will be several appeals; however, during that appellate process, Raja will be in custody, where he belongs. #CoreyJones #JusticeforCoreyJones