A black security guard who had successfully subdued a shooting suspect in a bar altercation and was holding him on the ground was fatally shot by responding officers, according to multiple reports.
The victim, Jemel Roberson, was in uniform and wearing a hat emblazoned with the word “security” while holding down the alleged assailant early Sunday at Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins, outside of Chicago. Roberson also was holding his licensed firearm at the time, reports WGN-TV.
Roberson, 26, is the father of a 9-month-old son.
When officers from the neighboring suburb of Midlothian responded to the shooting, they encountered Roberson holding “somebody on the ground with his knee in his back, with his gun in his back,” witness Adam Harris told the TV station.
“Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ ” Harris told WGN. “He was a security guard. And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.”
Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney confirmed the shooting by his department’s officer who “encountered a subject with a gun,” and added in a statement, “The subject the officer shot was later pronounced deceased at an area hospital.”
The security guard employed by the bar “was trying to save people’s lives,” according to Gregory Kulis, an attorney for the Roberson family, reports Chicago TV station WLS. “He was working security because a shooting had just taken place in the establishment,” he said.
“So, he was doing his job and holding on to somebody until … police arrived,” Kulis said. “And a police officer, our feeling is, did not make the proper assessment and fired and killed Jemel.”
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On Monday, Roberson’s mother, Beatrice Roberson, filed a lawsuit alleging violation of her son’s federal civil rights against the village of Midlothian and the unnamed Midlothian officer who shot Roberson, seeking more than $1 million in damages, reports CNN.
“This was going to be my baby’s first Christmas with his dad and now he’s going to miss out on everything,” said Avontea Boose, the mother of Roberson’s 9-month-old son, the Associated Press reported.
Friends said Roberson, who aspired to become a police officer, also was a musician and organist at New Spiritual Light Baptist Church who last rehearsed there on Thursday.
“He said, ‘Ma and pops, I’ll see you all Sunday,’ and I jokingly said, ‘You better make sure you’re on time for morning worship.’ He said, ‘I’ll be there pops. I’ll see you then,'” the church’s pastor, Walter Turner, told WLS.
“How in the world does the security guard get shot by police?” Turner asked. “A young man that was literally doing his job and now he’s gone.”
According to witness accounts, a fight had broken out in the bar and someone began firing a gun. Five people were shot but the injuries to four of them, including the alleged shooter, were not life-threatening, said Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, according to The New York Times.
The police-involved shooting of Roberson is under investigation by the Illinois State Police.
“Jemel Roberson was a young man who was greatly loved by all who knew him,” states a GoFundMe page seeking to help the family with expenses after his death. “He was the light of his mother Beatrice’s life, and was a devoted loving son. Jemel was a gifted basketball player and musician, and his love for God and his family were at the forefront of his life.”
“Sadly, Jemel’s life was tragically and unexpectedly cut short this morning as he tried to save others from senseless violence,” the page reads. “Today, many remember him as a hero; one who put others before himself.”