Nouman Raja listens to Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis during his sentencing hearing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. in the killing of  stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida police officer received a 25-year prison sentence Thursday for the fatal on-duty shooting of a black musician whose SUV had broken down after a late-night concert.

Fired Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja was the first Florida law enforcement agent in nearly 30 years to be convicted and sentenced for an on-duty killing — and one of only a few officers nationwide.

The 41-year-old defendant was sentenced by Circuit Judge Joseph Marx as family and friends of the 31-year-old victim, Corey Jones, looked on in a hushed courtroom jammed with supporters from both sides.

Marx said sentencing defendants is the hardest part of his job, something he loses sleep over even when dealing with a hardened, career criminal. Raja is not that, he said. He could have given Raja a life term, a sentence prosecutors sought.

"This has been a heartbreaking case," Marx said. "I think it has had a profound effect on every single person who sat through this trial."

Jones' family exited the courthouse singing the gospel song "Victory is Mine." Jones came from a family of ministers and was to have performed at their church the morning he was killed in 2015. His father, Clinton Jones Sr., had told Marx earlier he hadn't deleted his son's number from his cellphone because that would be too hard emotionally.

"We knew what the truth was and we stood by that," Jones told reporters after the hearing. He said he never doubted Raja instigated the altercation. "Because of the son we had raised and the type of character he had, we knew ... it wasn't our Corey."

Raja's wife, Karine, asked Marx to show leniency so her husband could be a father to their two young children. She said the media and others had unfairly portrayed him as "a monster, the angel of death." Raja, dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit with his wrists and ankles shackled, often dropped his head as his wife spoke. He had grown a beard since his convictions last month for manslaughter and attempted murder and appeared to have lost weight.

"Why I am so angry is that the wrong person was chosen to be a sacrificial lamb," his wife said. "Raja is the man you wanted serving and protecting you." His attorneys left court vowing to appeal.

Prosecutors contended Raja escalated what should have been a routine interaction into a deadly confrontation with Jones, a housing inspector and part-time drummer. Raja's attorneys had argued that he acted in self-defense both as a police officer and under Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, which a previous judge rejected.

Raja, of Asian descent, was in plain clothes for an auto burglary investigation team when he spotted Jones' SUV at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. Jones was headed home from a nightclub performance by his reggae band when his vehicle stalled on a dark highway off-ramp. He had a concealed-weapons permit and carried a handgun, purchased days earlier to protect his $10,000 drum set, which was in the SUV.

Raja, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, drove an unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp within feet of the SUV.

Prosecutors said Raja never identified himself as an officer and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja's supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest if he approached a civilian. He didn't, nor did he pull his badge.

What police didn't know at first was that Jones had been talking to a tow-truck dispatcher on a recorded line. That recording shows Jones saying "Huh?" as his door opens. Raja yells, "You good?" Jones says he is. Raja replies twice, "Really?" with Jones replying "Yeah."

Suddenly, Raja shouts at Jones to raise his hands, using an expletive. Jones replies, "Hold on!" and Raja repeats his demand.

Prosecutors believe Jones pulled his gun and tried to run away. Raja fired three shots; Jones ran down an embankment. Prosecutors said he threw his gun, but Raja fired three more times, 10 seconds after the first volley. One of the bullets pierced the man's heart. He was also hit in both arms.

Prosecutors said Raja, not knowing of the tow-truck dispatcher recording, sought to deceive investigators. He claimed he said "Police, can I help you?" as Jones jumped from the SUV. He also told them Jones leapt backward and pointed his gun, forcing him to fire. Raja said Jones ran but turned and again pointed his gun, forcing him to fire the second volley.

Prosecutors charged Raja with manslaughter, saying his actions created the confrontation and showed "culpable negligence." They also charged him with attempted murder, saying no matter which of Raja's six shots killed Jones, the second volley was a conscious effort to kill him as he fled.

The last Florida officer sentenced for an on-duty killing was Miami's William Lozano in 1989. The Hispanic officer fatally shot a black motorcyclist who he said tried to hit him. A passenger died when the motorcycle crashed, setting off three days of rioting.

Lozano was convicted of two manslaughter counts in a Miami trial and sentenced to seven years, but never served it. State appellate court justices dismissed the verdict, saying the case should have been moved from Miami because of racial tensions. Lozano was acquitted at a 1993 retrial in Orlando.

Clinton
Clinton Jones Jr., center, the brother of Corey Jones, is seen leaving the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 25, 2019, after former police officer Nouman Raja was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the fatal shooting Corey Jones on Oct. 18, 2015. (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Clinton Jones, Sr., father of Corey Jones, right, is hugged by Jones family attorney Benjamin Crump after Nouman Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday in West Palm Beach April 25, 2019. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Nouman Raja is brought into the courtroom for sentencing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Clinton Jones Jr., center, the brother of Corey Jones, is seen leaving the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 25, 2019, after former police officer Nouman Raja was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the fatal shooting Corey Jones on Oct. 18, 2015. (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Nouman Raja sits with defense attorney Rick King during his sentencing Thursday in West Palm Beach April 25, 2019. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Attorney Benjamin Crump, left, leaves the Palm Beach County Courthouse with Clinton Jones, the father of Corey Jones, in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 25, 2019, after former police officer Nouman Raja was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the fatal shooting Corey Jones on Oct. 18, 2015. (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Nouman Raja sits with his defense team after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Nouman Raja is led away after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday, April 25, 2019. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Circuit Judge Joseph Marx sentences Nouman Raja to 25 years in prison Thursday. April 25, 2019  in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Karine Raja, wife of Nouman Raja, talks with defense attorney Scott Richardson after Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Nouman Raja sits with members of his defense team during his sentencing hearing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. With Raja are paralegal Debi Stratton and attorney Rick King. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Adnan Raja, brother of Nouman Raja, speaks during the sentencing hearing for Raja Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Nouman Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Clinton Jones, Sr., father of Corey Jones, talks about the loss of his son during the sentencing hearing for Nouman Raja Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones in Oct. 2015. With him is Assistant State Attorney Brian L. Fernandes. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)
Clinton Jones, Sr. and Kattie Jones, father and stepmother of Corey Jones, enter the courtroom for the sentencing of former Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Raja faces a minimum of 25 years and Circuit Judge Joseph Marx could give him a life sentence for the 2015 shooting of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old African-American drummer whose SUV had broken down on an interstate early on a Sunday morning. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool)