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What's known — and not known — about the police shooting of security guard Jemel Roberson

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 11/15/2018 Matthew Walberg
a person holding a sign posing for the camera © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

This much is known about the death Jemel Roberson: The armed security guard was trying to subdue a suspect in a bar shooting in Robbins early Sunday when he was shot by a Midlothian police officer who responded to the call. Roberson is black; the unnamed police officer is white.

Beyond that, some basic facts are in dispute or unknown.

An attorney for Roberson’s family said the 26-year-old Chicago man was wearing a hat with “security” print on it. Illinois State Police, who are investigating, released a contradictory statement, saying Roberson was clad in “plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard.”

The attorney, Greg Kulis, also claims in a lawsuit filed Monday that multiple witnesses shouted at the Midlothian officer that Roberson was a security guard, but the state police report, citing witness statements, said its preliminary finding was that police officer gave multiple commands to Roberson to drop his firearm before the officer opened fire.

Late Wednesday, one of the other four people shot and injured in the gunfire exchange at the bar emerged. Dorian Myrickes told the Associated Press that he was also working security at the bar that night, saw the officer shoot Roberson and did not hear the officer first give Roberson any commands to drop his gun.

From his hospital bed, Myrickes also said Roberson had the word “security” printed on his hat and on the back shoulder of the black sweatshirt he was wearing. But Myrickes acknowledged that the officer might not have been able to see those, according to the AP report.

Another thing that’s clear is the bar, Manny’s Blue Room Lounge, was not authorized to serve alcohol, since it’s state liquor license expired on Sept. 30, and had not been renewed, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Here are some other questions that remain:

• What were the circumstances of the gunfire at the bar that prompted the police response? Among the four injured was the person Roberson was restraining. That man is currently in custody and being treated for non-life threatening injuries, but no charges have been filed, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation of the initial shooting. Police officials have said it stemmed from a verbal dispute and escalated when someone left, returned with a gun and fired.

• Little is known about the officer who shot Roberson. He is white, a seven-year police veteran (Midlothian officials clarified Wednesday he’s been with that department nearly four year and worked for three at another department.) He is currently on paid leave while the state police Public Integrity Taskforce investigates.

• The details of Roberson’s employment at the bar are also murky. He was licensed to carry a firearm as a security guard, according to state records, but it’s unclear if he was licensed to work as an armed security guard at Manny’s specifically, since employers are also required under most circumstances to be licensed. Bar owners did not return multiple calls for comment, and state officials requested that the Tribune obtain records via an open records request. The request has been made, but the state’s response is still pending.

mwalberg@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @mattwalberg1

MORE COVERAGE

Witness to Jemel Roberson shooting says he didn't hear officer order security guard to drop gun »

Midlothian cop told Jemel Roberson to drop weapon before fatal Robbins shooting, state police say. Lawyer claims probe rushed. »

Protesters say security guard Jemel Roberson was proverbial 'good guy with a gun' — but was shot and killed by police, anyway »

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