In the early hours of November 11, 26-year-old Jemel Roberson was working security at a bar in the Chicago suburbs when a shooting broke out. Shortly after Roberson subdued the suspect at gunpoint, police arrived — and fatally shot the armed security guard as he pinned the suspect to the ground.
Roberson was working at Manny’s Blue Room Bar, in Robbins, Illinois, when security personnel asked a group of men to leave following an argument. Soon after, at least one man returned to the bar and began shooting, injuring some of the people in the bar. Security returned fire and Roberson detained the man.
Roberson “had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back, like, ‘Don’t move,’” witness Adam Harris told local news outlet WGN.
When officers from the Robbins and Midlothian police departments arrived, one officer opened fire, killing Roberson. According to witness statements given to local outlets, the officer fired even as witnesses told them to stop. “Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ He was a security guard,” Harris said.
“They still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him,” he added.
In preliminary findings released on Tuesday, Illinois State Police (which is tasked with investigating the shooting) argued that the officer gave Roberson “multiple verbal commands” to drop his weapon before opening fire. “According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject,” state police said in a statement.
The agency added that Roberson was not wearing anything that identified him as a security guard. Gregory Kulis, a lawyer representing Roberson’s mother in a civil rights lawsuit filed after the shooting, said that Roberson had a hat with the words “SECURITY” on it.
Four other people, including a man believed to be the suspect behind the bar shooting, were injured in the incident. The suspect’s name has not been released publicly and he has not been charged yet, Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney issued a statement calling Roberson “a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation.”
“The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his family and his friends. There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with,” Delaney added. He told the Chicago Tribune that the department will release another statement on the shooting “after the agency concluded its inquiry and ‘all of the facts’ are known.”
NBC News reports that the officer who shot Roberson has been placed on administrative leave. The officer’s name has not been released, but the Chicago Tribune reports that the officer has been with the department for several years.