Jemel Roberson stopped a drunken man who opened fire at a bar outside Chicago and was holding the man at gunpoint, but when police arrived it was Roberson who they shot dead — even as witnesses shouted that Roberson was the wrong man.
The killing of the black security guard has spawned protests in the community just outside Chicago, where Roberson was shot to death in the early morning hours on Sunday. As WGN-TV reported, Roberson was working as a security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Bar when he asked a group of drunken men to leave. One of them returned with a gun at close to 4 a.m. and opened fire.
Roberson fired back and was able to apprehend one of the attackers, holding the man at gunpoint. As witnesses claimed, Roberson was still detaining the suspect when police arrived.
“He had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, ‘Don’t move,'” witness Adam Harris told WGN-TV.
What happened next has roiled tension in the community. Witnesses said as police arrived, they yelled to alert the officers that Roberson was a security guard. But police took aim at Roberson anyway, firing a fatal shot.
“Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ He was a security guard,” Harris said. “And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.”
Police in Midlothian have offered few details about the slaying, saying only that an officer “encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an officer-involved shooting.”
Members of the community have spoken out against the shooting, claiming that officers assumed that Roberson was in the wrong just because he was black.
Friends have started a GoFundMe fundraiser for Roberson’s family, raising more than $40,000 in just one day. The fundraiser noted that he was a gifted musician, and friends said he played drums and keyboard at local churches.
“Jemel Roberson was a young man who was greatly loved by all who knew him. He was the light of his mother Beatrice’s life, and was a devoted loving son,” the page noted. “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.”
Security Guard Jemel Roberson Who Apprehended Shooter Shot Dead by Cop https://t.co/ZLGaRIOJ9v
— TMZ (@TMZ) November 13, 2018
Though Jemel Roberson had been working as a security guard at the time of his death, friends told WGN-TV that he had dreams of becoming a police officer one day.