What swung conviction of ex-cop Nouman Raja? Audio of his deadly encounter with Corey Jones.

The main reason ex-cop Nouman Raja was found guilty Thursday — let alone even charged in the fatal shooting of stranded motorist Corey Jones — was an extraordinary audio recording.

This case, joining a series of police killings of young black men across the country, turned on the discovery of Jones’ recorded call for a tow truck that early morning of Oct. 18, 2015, on a highway off-ramp.

Played repeatedly in Raja’s eight-day trial, it allowed the jury to hear the tragic 3:15 a.m. encounter between the Palm Beach Gardens police officer and the beloved musician and family man, ending in six gunshots.

Without the recording, prosecutors and legal experts say Raja likely would have been cleared long ago rather than convicted on two charges: manslaughter by culpable negligence while armed, and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.

But three Democratic members of Congress, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, cheered the outcome. They wrote, “We hope that this decision brings comfort to his family and friends in knowing that justice has been served. The tragic shooting that led to Corey’s death shook our community and broke our hearts.”

State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, who in 2016 co-sponsored legislation to regulate police body cameras, said he is grateful to prosecutors.

“Today, justice was done in Palm Beach County,” Jones wrote in a statement. “Corey Jones had his life cut short. Unlike so many others, his killer is not walking away free.”

While race had no direct connection to the evidence in the case, it still became a talking point. The defense told the jury it was not “a racial killing,” but the prosecutors slipped in a few references such as how “a black man on the side of the road” deserves justice.

Those sentiments were shared outside the courtroom, by civil lawyers for Jones’ dad in a pending wrongful death civil lawsuit in federal court against Raja and the city of Palm Beach Gardens.

Crump said the guilty verdict is a promising development in a battle against racial injustice and Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. Last year, Raja unsuccessfully tried to get the charges tossed under that law.

“This verdict from this all-white jury gives us hope for equal justice in America,” Crump said, listing the names of black men killed in confrontations with police. “This may help prevent another police officer somewhere in America from killing a black man and being able to lie about it.”

In their closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors argued Raja must held accountable for his reckless actions that caused the death of the drummer whose Hyundai Santa Fe broke down after a Saturday night gig with his band.

The prosecution called Raja a “disgrace” to all good cops, even accusing him of “staging” parts of the confrontation for investigators and trying to hide the fact that he hunted Jones like an animal.

“The noble profession of law enforcement officers should not be tarnished by any one individual,” Aronberg said.

The defense argued that Raja told the truth, only confusing some facts because of the stress of the situation.

“The prosecution would have you think [Raja] was out hunting … somebody to kill, that this man was out there on the prowl hoping that he would kill someone,” Lubin said.

Jones was hit by bullets in each arm, along with a fatal shot that tore through his heart and both lungs. Jones’ licensed .380-caliber handgun gun, which prosecutors said he only had for protection, was found 41 yards from his body.

Raja declined to testify in the trial, but the jury twice watched a video of Raja providing a voluntary statement to investigators, called a walk-through, about four and a half hours after the shooting. “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,” Raja said of the reasons he used his .40-caliber Glock pistol.

More than a dozen members of the Jones family attended every minute of the trial, fighting through tears as Corey’s voice on the roadside assistance call echoed in the courtroom. There were his final words: “Hold on! Hold on!”

And with the verdict they could finally exhale.

“It seemed like a rainfall,” Corey’s older sister, Chanda Peoples, said later. “A flood of joy. … I just felt like this was such a wonderful victory for my family.”

mjfreeman@sun-sentinel.com, 561-243-6642 or Twitter @marcjfreeman