TALLASSEE, Fla. (NSF) - The family of a Boynton Beach man killed by an undercover officer called Wednesday for lawmakers to approve a bill that would regulate the use of police body cameras.
The parents and sister of the late Corey Jones visited the Capitol, on what would have been his 32nd birthday, to ask state leaders to support the measure (HB 93), filed by Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park.
A musician, Corey Jones was fatally shot by a plainclothes Palm Beach Gardens officer when his car broke down on Interstate 95 in the early morning after a gig. The officer, who was driving an unmarked van, has since been fired.
"If there were body cameras, they would have answers," said Ben Crump, a prominent civil-rights attorney who represents the family. "We all would have answers as to why a church drummer who was broke down at 3 in the morning, on October 18th last year, was confronted by an un-uniformed officer and is dead."
The bill would only apply to police agencies that decide to use body cameras. Under it, those agencies would be required to establish policies and procedures addressing the proper use, maintenance and storage of body cameras and recorded data. State law currently doesn't require such policies.
The measure faces a hearing Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee and would be ready to go to the House floor if approved. A Senate version (SB 418), filed by Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, passed its first committee Monday and faces two more.
Corey Jones' family spoke to reporters before heading to Gov. Rick Scott's office to ask him to support the bill.
"My brother avoided confrontation," said Corey Jones' sister, Melissa. "My brother wasn't this criminal guy who looked for trouble. … My brother would never have raised a gun to an officer."
Clinton Jones, Corey's father, described his son as a good man, devoted to his church and family. "It may be your son, or it may be your daughter," he said. "I wasn't expecting this. I wasn't looking for this, but it happened to my family."
Scott, asked about the family's request that he support the bill, deferred to lawmakers.
“They get to pass legislation, and I'll look at legislation as it makes it to my desk," he said. "But we have a very good House and very good Senate, and they are focused on what is the right thing for our citizens."
This is the second year Shevrin Jones has sponsored a proposal to regulate police body cameras. The original bill would have made the cameras mandatory, he said, "but there was a lot of pushback on it."
Daryl Parks, Crump's law partner in a host of high-profile cases, said most police departments --- "although they resist at first, once they get (the cameras) implemented, they realize that it protects the officers. It also protects the citizens."
Information taken from The News Service of Florida.