Jemel Roberson was working security at Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Robbins, Ill., just outside of Chicago, when shots rang out following a dispute between patrons. After detaining the man who allegedly fired the gun, Roberson waited for police to arrive.
When they got there, the “good guy with a gun” — you know, the person the National Rifle Association tells the public can stop the “bad guy with a guy” — was killed by the police.
Witnesses say patrons at the bar tried to tell officers Roberson was a security guard, but they didn’t listen.
“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.
Like Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer in 2016, Roberson was licensed to carry a gun.
One of our beloved @PurposedChurch musicians who was working part time overnight as security stopped the shooter from shooting more people was shot multiple times by the police and killed. We are devastated and need answers https://t.co/b6kHzreBRP
— LeAundre Hill (@PastorDreHill) November 11, 2018
Roberson’s heartbroken friends and family held a vigil outside of the bar on Monday, remembering the young man who was musician at Purposed Church in Chicago. One mourner called the officer’s actions “homicidal.”
“This was not reckless policing, this was homicidal policing. They saw a Black man with a gun. If he did not have a gun, his black skin made him a weapon,” the man said.
“As a community, we demand respectful engagement. We want the police to treat our people with just a certain amount of dignity and respect,” he continued. “They patrol the Black community like some … Gestapo being judge, jury and executioner.”
The Midlothian police officer who fatally shot the 26-year-old has been placed on administrative leave while officials investigate the tragic encounter. Robbins mayor, Tyrone Ward, issued an apology to Roberson’s family.
“The village of Robbins sends its deepest condolences to the family of Jemel Roberson for this unfortunate tragedy,” Ward said. “We ask that the Robbins community continue to keep the Roberson family lifted in prayer during this trying time.”
Roberson’s family filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday alleging the still unnamed officer launched an “unprovoked,” “unjustified” and “unreasonable” attack against the young man.”
In addition to being a church organist, Roberson was the father of a 9-month-old son, who will now have to grow up without his father.
“This was going to be my baby’s first Christmas with his dad and now he’s going to miss out on everything,” Avontea Boose told the Associated Press.
Illinois State Police are conducting an investigation into Roberson’s death, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family with funeral expenses.