Sunday, February 3 was the 35th birthday of my nephew, Corey Jones. But there will be no birthday celebration; just heartache. That’s because Corey’s generation has stopped.
It’s been more than three years since that dreadful night of October 18, 2015, and our hearts and minds have questions with no answers.
Corey was in his rightful place, waiting for towing assistance for his car along the side of I-95 in Palm Beach Gardens—help that was delayed. He had been on a phone call for more than 50 minutes with an AT&T roadside assistance representative.
When Corey’s mother passed away in 2006, I knew I needed to step up in my role as his Godmother — and that I did. He spent time with me in Georgia, where I lived; I remember our lunches and dinners. He was always very curious. He found music stores and would spend hours there while I was working. We chatted about life, but not much about his mom; it was too painful for both of us.
My last text to Corey was simple—I typed ‘how are you, I love you’—and sent just a few hours before he was shot and killed. Our last conversation was a week before his horrific death. We talked about his many friends from all around the world, friendships that developed over the last decade as he pursued his music career. He was so happy and full of joy about the life God had allowed him to “build”; he was looking forward to his future, as was I.
We spoke about him one day getting married and I told him that, while I could never replace his mom, I would be honored to sit where she would have sat—and we would honor her too on that special day. Suddenly, he stopped. “Auntie,” he said, “I’ll have time for that later.”
That being said, because of the selfish decision by that police officer, Nouman Raja, on that dreadful night, Corey’s generation stopped. There will be no wedding. No children and no grandchildren. That all ended on that October night nearly four years ago. And as we continue to await his trial, we feel no better. Especially as we pass yet another birthday without justice for Corey.
Sheila Banks is the founder of Live To Serve, Live To Care Inc., a nonprofit focused on family support and community uplift. She grew up in Boynton Beach, attending the family church with her nephew, who played the drums. For more information on the trial, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.