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Chicago Security Guard Killed By Police While Detaining An Alleged Shooter


About a week ago in a suburb of Chicago, a white police officer shot and killed a black security guard named Jemel Roberson. Investigators have now released some preliminary conclusions. In a statement issued late last night, the Illinois State Police said there was no way to know Roberson was a security guard. As WBEZ's Miles Bryan reports, that does not square with what witnesses say.

MILES BRYAN, BYLINE: Roberson worked security at Manny's Blue Room, a nightclub in a village just south of Chicago called Robbins. Early last Sunday morning, a shooting broke out there. Witnesses say Roberson, who had a gun, subdued one of the people involved in the club's parking lot. In a statement, the Illinois State Police said an officer from nearby Midlothian gave Roberson several verbal commands to drop his gun before fatally shooting him. The agency said Roberson didn't have any clothing on to suggest he was a security guard. That contradicts the statements several witnesses have given to the media.

JAKIA WOODS: He had the orange - like, a fluorescent vest and a security hat.

BRYAN: And it was clear he was security?

WOODS: Absolutely clear.

BRYAN: Jakia Woods (ph) lives in a house just feet from the club's parking lot. She says officers on scene were asking Roberson to get off the suspect, and he was doing so when the Midlothian officer came out of the club's back door.

WOODS: Before he could get up off of him, the officer comes flying out of this door, gun up. He says, get on the ground. Before he says ground, he fires the first shot.

BRYAN: The Illinois State Police did not answer phone calls last night. The club's parking lot now contains an homage to Jamal Roberson. Candles spell out his first name. Woods says she's still in shock.

WOODS: You know, I live here. I see him. He's over there every night that the bar is open, doing his job. He doesn't really bother anybody. He's just doing his job.

BRYAN: Reached again late last night, Woods says she has not been interviewed by investigators. Roberson's family attorney Greg Kulis says Roberson was known as a kind soul, a hard worker and a musician who loved playing organ at his church.

GREG KULIS: In fact, the day of the incident, he was supposed to be in church that morning to play the organ.

BRYAN: The Roberson family is now suing the officer and the village of Midlothian in federal court. Kulis says Jemel Roberson should be remembered as a hero.

KULIS: He was retained to do a job, and he did his job well. He probably saved some people's lives.

BRYAN: The name of the officer has not been released. The Midlothian Police Department says he's on administrative leave. In a statement posted on Facebook, the Midlothian police chief called Roberson a, quote, "brave man" and offered the department's heartfelt condolences. For NPR News, I'm Miles Bryan in Robbins, Ill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.