The NFL aired a dramatic ad during Sunday’s AFC championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans about a cop shooting to death a black musician whose van had broken down along the side of the road.
Anquan Boldin, who was playing for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, was the ad’s narrator. Boldin’s wife told him that his cousin, Corey Jones, had been shot to death by a police officer. The shooting of the 31-year-old Jones occurred in the early morning hours of October 18, 2015.
“I’ll never forget that night,” said Boldin.
The airing of the one-minute ad critical of the police for their often-violent treatment of black men has been a hot issue for the NFL. The ad is part of the NFL’s Inspire Change Initiative, which works with the Players Coalition, co-founded by Boldin. The Players Coalition’s goal is to improve police-community relations.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and some other NFL players took a knee on the sidelines during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and deadly shootings of blacks by police.
President Trump demanded that the NFL fire the kneeling players. Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, said caustically “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” That comment seemed to sum up the owners’ attitude toward both the players and their deeply felt concerns.
Nouman Raja, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, police officer shot to death Jones after his SUV broke down. Jones was returning home from a concert when his van unexpectedly stopped on the exit ramp of the I-95 Expressway early in the morning.
While Jones was waiting for a tow truck and was on the telephone with the dispatcher, Raja approached Jones’ van.
Raja was dressed in plain clothes and did not identify himself as a police officer, according to prosecutors. He also acted aggressively against Jones, cursing him and ordering him to put his hands in the air.
Jones, fearing he was being robbed, pulled out his legally registered handgun, which he carried to protect his life and his $10,000 drum set, which was in the truck. He ran down an embankment and threw down his gun. The gun’s safety was still on.
Raja shot Jones in the head and both arms.
Raja lied to police about the circumstances surrounding the deadly shooting. He claimed Jones pointed his gun at him, forcing him to shoot, but story fell apart because he didn’t know the tow truck driver was listening on the phone and heard the two men’s entire exchange.
After the deadly shooting, angry demonstrators held up signs that read “we die for having car problems.”
Raja was under house arrest for two years. An all-white jury later convicted Raja, 41, of manslaughter and attempted murder. A judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison.