CHICAGO — Authorities on Monday were trying to piece together how a suburban Chicago police officer ended up fatally shooting a black security guard who was detaining a suspected gunman who opened fire at the bar where he worked moments earlier.
The 26-year-old armed guard, Jemel Roberson, was pinning down the suspect outside Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins, Illinois, early Sunday when an officer dispatched to the scene opened fire on him, according to witnesses and a federal lawsuit filed Monday by Roberson’s mother.
Witnesses say they believe the officer, who works for the neighboring Midlothian Police Department, may have acted rashly upon seeing an armed black man upon arriving at the scene.
“Everybody was screaming out, ‘He was a security guard,’ and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him,” witness Adam Harris told WGN-TV.
Officials said Roberson had been working at the bar early Sunday morning when a dispute involving several men broke out, leading to gunfire inside the bar.
The incident escalated when one of the men opened fire inside the bar around 4 a.m., according to Sam Randall, a Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. A lawsuit filed by Roberson’s mother, Beatrice Roberson, on Monday alleges that “some patrons” shot the bartenders and others.
The lawsuit also alleges the officer used “unprovoked” and “excessive” force in fatally shooting Roberson. Beatrice Roberson is seeking $1 million in damages from the village of Midlothian and the officer, who is identified as John Doe in the complaint.
“The shooting of the decedent Jemel Roberson was unreasonable,” the lawsuit alleges.
Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney said in a statement that officers responding to the shooting found multiple victims inside the bar. Midlothian police as well as the Cook County Sheriff’s Office were asked by Robbins Police to dispatch officers to the scene.
Delaney noted the “Midlothian officer encountered a subject with a gun” before discharging his weapon. In addition to Roberson, four others—including the suspected gunman—were shot during the incident.
The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Taskforce is conducting an investigation of the officer-involved shooting, while the sheriff’s office was investigating the shooting inside the bar. The suspect, who was shot at some point inside the bar, remained hospitalized Monday and had not been charged.
The circumstances of Roberson’s shooting spurred anger on social media as well as sympathy.
A GoFundMe page to help his family pay for funeral costs had collected more than $20,000 as of late Monday.
“How in the world does the security guard get shot by the police?” Rev. Walter Turner, pastor New Spiritual Light Baptist Church, where Roberson sometimes played organ, told the Chicago ABC affiliate. “A young man that was literally just doing his job, and now he’s gone.”
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