25 years in prison for ex-Florida policeman who shot black motorist

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Corey Jones in West Palm Beach at a 2015 rally (AFP Photo/JOE RAEDLE)

Miami (AFP) - A former Florida police officer was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday for fatally shooting a black man whose car had broken down on the highway.

Nouman Raja, 41, was convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder last month for the October 2015 shooting of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old musician.

Raja, a former member of the Palm Beach Gardens police force, is the first police officer to be convicted in Florida for the on-duty shooting death of a black man in three decades.

"This has been a heart-breaking case," Judge Joseph Marx was quoted as saying by the Palm Beach Post. "I think it's had a profound effect on everybody that sat through this trial."

Jones was returning from a performance when his car broke down on the highway late at night.

While he was waiting for a tow truck and on the phone with the dispatcher, Raja approached in an unmarked white van. He was wearing plainclothes at the time.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Raja acted aggressively and did not identify himself as a police officer.

Jones, apparently believing he was being robbed, pulled out a handgun he legally owned and was shot several times by Raja.

The judge sentenced Raja to 25 years each on the manslaughter and attempted murder convictions and ordered them to be served concurrently.

The attempted murder conviction was for shots that Raja fired at Jones that missed.

There have been a number of high-profile cases in the United States involving the shooting of black men by police officers, but Raja's attorney Richard Lubin said the case was not about race.

"This man is not a racist," the Palm Beach Post quoted Lubin as saying about Raja, who is of South Asian descent.