The National Football League (NFL) has launched an ad campaign highlighting the fatal 2015 encounter between a stranded motorist and a plain-clothed Palm Beach Gardens police officer.
The ad, which aired during the AFC Championship game on Sunday night, and is due to run again during the Super Bowl, was created through the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Inspire Change works closely with the Players Coalition.
“I’ll never forget that night,” Boldin said in the commercial. “I was still playing with the 49ers, and my wife walks up after the game and told me that my cousin Corey had been killed.”
Bouldin said that his cousin broke down on the side of the road, at which point a plain-clothed officer pulled up and “starts screaming.”
“All you here from there is three shots,” the former NFL star claimed, not mentioning that Jones had grabbed his legally-possessed gun in what prosecutors later described as act of self-defense against somebody unidentifiable as a police officer.
The ad then cut to clips of Jones’ distraught parents and of a group of men carrying his casket.
“This officer was in plain clothes,” the ad continued. “Corey had no way of knowing who he was.”
“There’s just some things that are bigger than football,” Boldin said. “And I felt like starting the Players Coalition and effecting change in this country was one of those things.”
Jones was on his way his way home from a band gig in Jupiter at about 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015 when his SUV broke down on Interstate 95 exit ramp at PGA Boulevard, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
A Road Ranger stopped to offer assistance but the two weren’t able to get the vehicle running, so Jones called for a tow truck and sat in his SUV alone to wait.
Then-Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja was working a plainclothes assignment that night and driving an unmarked white van when he spotted the disabled vehicle on the exit ramp at about 3 a.m.
Officer Raja got permission from a supervisor to stop and check out what he thought was an abandoned SUV, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The officer drove the wrong way up the ramp and pulled his unmarked van up close to Jones’ vehicle.
He got out of the van without his tactical vest, police radio, or department-issued gun, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Officer Raja was wearing nothing that would have identified him as a member of law enforcement, and he was carrying his personally-owned .40-caliber Glock pistol.
Jones armed himself with his licensed .380-caliber handgun, and prosecutors speculated he may have had it out that night because he thought the plainclothes officer was a criminal planning to rob him.
Prosecutor Brian Fernandes wrote that the officer “rushed toward Corey, chasing him from the cover of his own vehicle… the only logical conclusion that a citizen such as Corey could reach… was that he was about to be the unfortunate victim of a violent crime. And that is exactly what happened,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
In a recorded statement, Officer Raja told investigators that he had no choice but to defend himself against Jones, and that he believed the man was going to kill him that night.
“I said, ‘Hey, man, police, can I help you?’ and that’s when he… jumped back and pointed the gun at me,” the former police officer told detectives in a video that was shown to the jury during the trial.
Officer Raja fired six shots and struck Jones three times, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“I identified myself as a police officer… and this guy’s tryin’ to kill me and I was, and I, I didn’t wanna die,” he explained to investigators.
But the roadside assistance call that Jones had made for a tow truck earlier was still recording when the shooting occurred, and that told a very different story.
The audio proved that Officer Raja had not, in fact, identified himself as a police officer before he opened fire on Jones, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
On the recording, loud chimes can be heard as Jones opened his car door.
He said “huh?” as the officer approached his vehicle, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“I’m good. Yeah, I’m good,” Jones said.
“Really?” Officer Raja asked.
“Yeah,” Jones replied on the recording.
That’s when Officer Raja began screaming “Get your f–king hands up! Get your f–king hands up!”
“Hold on! Hold on!” Jones said on the recording.
“Get your f–king hands up! Drop!” the plainclothes officer ordered him.
The first round of gunfire is heard over the next two seconds of the recording, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Jones’ gun was found 41 yards from his body, and investigators determined it had not been fired.
Raja was fired by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department within a month of the incident, The New York Times reported.
He was later convicted of first-degree attempted murder and manslaughter by culpable negligence, and is serving a 25-year prison sentence, according to The Palm Beach Post.
In the ad, Bouldin said that the Players Coalition is focused on “police-community relations, education and economic advancement, and criminal justice reform.”
“Had it not been for the work that we do, Corey’s death would have been in vain,” he said. “The best way to inspire change, is to be it.”
You can watch Boldin’s NFL ad in the video below: