Black Man Precludes Casualties in Bar Shootout—Only to be Shot and Killed by Police [Updated]

Illustration for article titled Black Man Precludes Casualties in Bar Shootout—Only to be Shot and Killed by Police [Updated]
Screenshot: WGN9

The headline should have been: “Security Guard Apprehends Shooter and Saves Lives.” Instead, it’s another case of the police shooting and killing an innocent black man.


Eyewitnesses say that at Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Robbins, Ill., security told a group of intoxicated men they had to leave. One of the men returned armed, at which point shots were exchanged between them and armed security guards.

One of the guards, Jemel Roberson, 26, managed to restrain one of the gunmen.

From WGN9:

“He had somebody on the ground with his knee in back with his gun in his back like, ‘don’t move,’” witness Adam Harris said.

Two police officers arrived, and upon seeing the scene, one of them immediately shot Roberson before taking the time to better assess the situation.

“Everybody was screaming out, ‘he was a security guard,’ and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him,” Harris said to WGN. He was just doing his job—and had managed to do so without using fatal force, as the four people wounded had only nonfatal injuries.

I keep trying to wrap my head around the police officer’s decision here. Did he think it was a hostage situation? Still doesn’t make sense. Did he say anything before shooting Roberson? Probably not, and still wouldn’t make it OK. This man had ostensibly saved lives, and the police chose to end his on a kneejerk reaction.

From WLS-TV:

Those who knew Roberson described him as a man of God who shared his musical talents at several churches around the city, last rehearsing at this South Shore church on Thursday.

“He said, ‘Ma and pops, I’ll see you all Sunday and I jokingly said, ‘You better make sure you’re on time for morning worship. He said, ‘I’ll be there pops. I’ll see you then,’” Turner said.


Friends and family say Roberson had plans to become a police officer. Maybe he could have taught them something about resolving a situation without resorting to lethal force. We’ll never know now.

Updated: 11/13/2018, 8:50 a.m. EST:

A lawsuit has been filed by Jemel Roberson’s family following his tragic death at the hands of police in a Chicago suburb.


Roberson, who was in a uniform clearly indicating that he was security, was detaining a gunman with a licensed firearm at Manny’s Blue Room Bar when he was shot by a police officer arriving on the scene.

A task force is investigating the officers’ actions.

Roberson’s family has filed a lawsuit against the officer who killed him, seeking over $1 million in damages. Police have not released information about the officer in question, but Roberson’s family members believe there was a racial element to the shooting.


Roberson is survived by a 9-month-old son, whose mother Avontea Boose is heartbroken that Roberson would not be present for his son’s first Christmas holiday.

Roberson’s family has started a GoFundMe for his funeral costs.

Natalie Degraffinried is a senior editor for Kotaku.


We will never be the “good guy with a gun.” The 2nd amendment was never written “for us” it was written to protect “them” from “us.”