Big surprise (not): Cop that shot Black security guard is white
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 11/15/2018, 10:42 a.m.
Just as people of color were taking office across the country as mayors, commissioners, judges, attorney generals and even in Congress, racism in law enforcement rears its very ugly head again. Another allegedly innocent Black man is gunned down needlessly by a white cop. This time it was in a small town in Illinois. Police in Midlothian, Illinois said the officer involved in the fatal shooting of armed security guard Jemel Roberson is a white man and described Roberson's tragic death as “the equivalent of a ‘blue-on-blue,’ a friendly-fire incident.” The officer who shot Roberson has been with the Midlothian Police Department for nearly four years and had three years of prior service with another agency, Chief Dan Delaney said in a statement Wednesday. Roberson is a Black man. “The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his mother, his entire family and his friends,” Delaney said in the statement. “There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.” The officer, who is assigned to the patrol division and a team leader on the regional SWAT team, is currently on paid administrative leave, per standard policy, Delaney said, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, reports ABC News. He has not yet been publicly identified. A little after 4 a.m. Sunday, police in Robbins called for assistance from additional area police departments as it responded to a call about a shooting at Manny's Blue Room Bar, according to Midlothian police. Midlothian police said two of its officers went to the bar to help Robbins police. When officers arrived, Midlothian police said, they learned there were several gunshot victims inside the bar. A Midlothian police officer encountered Roberson, 26, of Chicago, a security guard at the bar, authorities said. He was in a parking lot outside the bar, trying to subdue a suspect in the shootings, witnesses told Illinois State Police investigators. In a report on its preliminary investigation released Tuesday, Illinois State Police, which is handling the police shooting, said Roberson was dressed “in plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a security guard.” Roberson was shot by the Midlothian officer after reportedly being given “multiple verbal commands” to drop his gun and get on the ground, according to witnesses, Illinois State Police said Tuesday. Roberson was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Delaney said in a statement released hours after the shooting. “We have learned a lot about Jemel over the last two days and he was [a] great man that was doing his best to stop an active shooter that evening,” Delaney said Tuesday. Greg Kulis, an attorney for the Roberson family, told ABC News Tuesday that witnesses had told him people saw the officer raising his weapon toward Roberson and had yelled “He's security! Don't shoot! He's security!” At a news conference in Midlothian Wednesday, an attorney for the Roberson estate called for the officer to be immediately fired. “We believe that this officer’s behavior was so egregious that he should be immediately terminated,” lawyer Lee Merritt said. Merritt also called for the officer to be named and identified so that the public can learn whether that officer “has a history of brutality [or] a representation of brutality.” Merritt, who represents Roberon's heirs, including his 9-month old son, Tristan, and Tristan’s mother, Avontea Boose, also revealed that Boose is pregnant with Roberson's second child. Merritt cited witnesses who contradicted Tuesday's statement from Illinois State Police. Merritt said witnesses claimed that Roberson was wearing a jacket, hat and vest that said “security.” Kulis has filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the as yet unidentified officer and the village of Midlothian. Merritt said he is filing a civil rights lawsuit in the case.