After detaining a shooting suspect while he worked security at a suburban Chicago bar, Jemel Roberson was killed by a Midlothian police officer, despite witnesses telling him he was “the good guy.”
“Everybody was screaming out, ‘He was a security guard,’ and they basically saw a Black man with a gun and killed him,” Adam Harris told WGN.
Now, Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Roberson’s family said the 26-year-old was only at the bar that night because he was working extra shifts to make sure his 9-month-old son’s first Christmas was extra special.
Instead, Roberson’s killing has devastated his family.
“A family member called me and told me. … I just broke down crying in the bathroom. For a long time, I was in the bathroom,” recalled Avontae Boose, Roberson’s partner and the mother of his son. To make things even worse, Boose is pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Although Roberson’s infant son, Tristan, isn’t able to understand what happened, Boose told CNN the tiny tot can sense his father’s absence.
“He’s just been calling (for) his dad,” the heartbroken mom said.
"I just broke down crying in the bathroom. For a long time I was in the bathroom 'till somebody had to come in there and cover me." Avontae Boose, the mother of Jemel Roberson's son, on learning the Chicago security guard was killed by police while at work https://t.co/K3dYfbsUlz pic.twitter.com/6eXWcd0ueW
— New Day (@NewDay) November 15, 2018
Illinois State Police are conducting an investigation into Roberson’s death, and Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney said the fatal encounter was “the equivalent of a ‘blue on blue,’ friendly fire incident.”
However Merritt, who filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the family, disagreed with Delaney’s assessment.
“If this was a case where they saw this as a friendly fire, as if a police officer was shot, then this would be handled much differently,” he said. “There would be more transparency.”
Merritt has called on the Midlothian Police Department to identify the officer who fatally shot Roberson.
“It’s important to put that name and face out in the public spectrum because it allows the community to report if this officer has a history of brutality,” he told CNN. “That information certainly becomes relevant for any future criminal proceedings.”
In the wake of the #thousandoaks & the #treeoflife shootings— the last thing our nation needed was another mass shooting. #JemelRoberson prevented one … and it cost him his life. He is a national hero. #RememberJemel pic.twitter.com/psYlyhGhg9
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) November 15, 2018
Both the Midlothian Police Department and the Mayor of Robbins, IL., where the bar was located, issued condolences to Roberson’s family. But that doesn’t fill the void of his loss for Boose and her children.
“He was a good father. He was a hero,” she said. “I’m going to tell them when they get older — when they get real older — what happened to their father. That he was a hero, and he saved a lot of people.”