CHICAGO (CBS) — Family, friends, and local activists are demanding answers from police, after a white police officer shot and killed a black security guard who was protecting customers from a gunman early Sunday at a bar in south suburban Robbins. Protesters plan to rally Tuesday afternoon at the Midlothian Police Department, where the officer who shot Jemel Roberson works.
Protest organizer Eric Russell said people in the community are outraged, and want the officer held accountable for Roberson’s death.
“This affects our whole community. We are devastated, and we want accountability,” said Russell, president of the Tree of Life Justice League.
Roberson, 26, was working security at Manny’s Luxury Lounge early Sunday, when a drunken fight led to gunshots outside the bar.
Witnesses said Roberson sprang into action, holding the gunman down, but when police responding to the shooting arrived, a Midlothian officer shot Roberson. Witnesses said Roberson was armed, but wearing clothes that clearly identified him as a security guard.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Roberson’s death a homicide, and said he was shot multiple times.
Several community groups and faith leaders plan to meet at the Midlothian Police Department at 3 p.m. to voice their concerns and stand in solidarity with Roberson’s family and friends.
“He represented the very best of our community. He had hopes and dreams and aspirations,” Russell said. “He was an accomplished gospel musician. This is a young man who helped us, as a community, prepare our spirit for worship.”
Roberson’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the village of Midlothian and the unnamed officer. They are seeking more than $1 million in damages, and described the shooting as unreasonable, unprovoked, and unjustified.
Family attorney Greg Kulis said Roberson was wearing a hat with “Security” printed on the front. Witnesses said he also was wearing a security vest.
“The police officer used excessive and unreasonable force,” Kulis said.
The lawsuit was filed a day after Roberson was killed. Kulis said filing the lawsuit so soon gives the family the ability to subpoena evidence in their case, and can help bring witnesses forward.
Monday night, dozens of people attended a vigil to honor the life of a young man they described as a hard worker and talented gospel musician, who wanted to become a police officer.
Many people in the community are outraged over Roberson’s death, and want to know what prompted police to shoot him. They are demanding answers from Midlothian police, who have declined comment on the circumstances of the shooting amid an Illinois State Police investigation.
“The officer that shot him, we still don’t know his name. They’re trying to keep that from us. So release his name, please. That’s what I want you all to do. Release his name, and he needs to have consequences,” said family friend Candace Ousley.
According to the Associated Press, Midlothian Police Chief Dan Delaney has confirmed the officer who shot Roberson is white, but authorities have not identified him by name.
The officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave. He has seven years of experience as a police officer, and has been with the Midlothian Police Department for four years. He serves on their patrol division, and as a leader of the regional SWAT team.
Meantime, the mayor of Robbins has ordered Manny’s shut down until further notice for a “review and full examination.”