Jemel Roberson, like many first-time parents, was concerned about making his family’s first Christmas special. With a 9-month-old son and another child on the way, Roberson was picking up extra shifts ahead of the holidays, Roberson’s family attorney Lee Merritt said last week.
CNN reported Merritt’s comments. He and Roberson’s girlfriend, Avontae Boose, have been talking to the media in an effort to get Roberson’s story out there and to pressure police to release the name of the officer who shot the 26-year-old security guard, who had been apprehending a gunman at Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins, Ill., on Nov. 11.
“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,” Merritt said. “That information certainly becomes relevant for any future criminal proceedings.”
Merritt had previously referred to Roberson as “the quintessential good guy with a gun” for his role in helping to prevent further bloodshed.
The officer, who works for Midlothian Police and is said to be a white male, has not been identified. The cop has allegedly been on the department for about four years, according to CNN, and is currently on paid administrative leave while the Illinois State police investigate the shooting.
There have been disputes as to exactly what happened when Roberson was shot and killed after quelling a bar fight that got out of hand. As the Tribune reports, Illinois State Police—citing “witness statements”—said a Midlothian police officer gave “multiple verbal commands” to Roberson to drop his weapon.
But witnesses at the scene have disputed the police account. From the Tribune:
The preliminary report also said Roberson was wearing “plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard.”
Witnesses, however, have contradicted that account, saying that the officer opened fire on Roberson before giving him an adequate opportunity to respond to his verbal commands. They also reported that Roberson was wearing clothing clearly marked with the word “Security.”
This past weekend, a group of Robbins pastors gathered to show support for Roberson and his family and to call for accountability from police, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Roberson was a gospel musician at several churches, playing the organ and drums at services and musicals throughout the Chicago area.
Meanwhile, Roberson’s family will try to get answers, all while preparing his son Tristan for his first Christmas—without his father.
Boose says Tristan has been wondering where his father is.
“He’s just been calling (for) his dad,” she told CNN Thursday. Given her son’s age, he doesn’t understand what happened yet. But Boose knows what she will tell him—and the baby she has on the way.
“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,” she said.