Judge denies request to release name of officer who killed Chicago-area security guard

Video shows confusion, anger after Chicago-area security guard shot
Family of Jemel Roberson via CNN
Jemel Roberson

A federal judge has denied a request to release the name of a suburban Chicago officer who shot dead a security guard earlier this month, according to court records.

Chicago attorney Gregory Kulis, who represents the mother of the slain security guard, Jemel Roberson, filed both a motion and a subpoena on Friday directing the Illinois State Police to release details such as the identity of the Midlothian police officer who fatally shot Roberson and of all witnesses.

Assistant Attorney General Michael C. Stephenson had asked the court to deny the motion, which he said was “an attempt to side-step the basic rules of motion practice, and give the State Police until December 17 to respond to the subpoena. The subpoena required a response by November 30, but that wasn’t enough time, he said.

On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Joan Lefkow gave the State Police until December 18 to respond to Kulis’ subpoena and set a status hearing for January 8.

Stephenson argued the motion was “in complete disregard” of the federal rule governing subpoenas.

“Let’s just follow the rules here,” Lefkow said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Authorities have not released the name of the officer, who has not been charged in the shooting in Robbins, about 20 miles south of Chicago. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard, pending the outcome of the State Police investigation, according to Midlothian Police.

Police call shooting a friendly fire incident”

A gunman started shooting in the early mornings of November 11 at Manny’s Blue Room Lounge, and witnesses say Roberson bravely stopped the alleged shooter, pinning him to the ground.

Several law enforcement agencies responded, including two officers from Midlothian, and one of them fatally shot Roberson, according to authorities.

Roberson had a Firearms Owners’ Identification Card, which allows Illinois residents to legally possess firearms or ammunition, according to a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement after the shooting, Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney said he was “saddened” by the shooting and called Roberson “a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation.” But Delaney said his department viewed the fatal shooting “as the equivalent of a ‘blue on blue,’ friendly fire incident.”

What witnesses said

Community activists have demanded answers to why Roberson was killed. One point of contention is whether he was wearing any clothing that identified him as a security guard. Witnesses said Roberson was wearing clothing that clearly identified him as “security.”

A day after the shooting, Kulis filed a federal lawsuit against the unnamed officer and the village of Midlothian alleging the fatal shooting was “excessive and unreasonable,” and violated Roberson’s civil rights. The suit seeks damages of more than $1 million.

In his motion, Kulis argued that the Illinois State Police takes months to issue findings or reports but issued a press release soon after the shooting that news reports announced as preliminary findings. That information that police released differed from witness accounts, Kulis argued.

According to witness statements, “the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject,” the Illinois State Police said in the statement. The statement also said Roberson was wearing “plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard.”

“In essence the press release infers that the shooting was justified but refused to even disclose the Officer’s name or the basis for this finding,” Kulis argued in court papers. Authorities waived “any investigation privilege,” by disclosing the findings and should release the information, the motion said.

In court, Lefkow said she didn’t see the State Police’s release as “preliminary findings,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“They don’t control how the media spin it,” Lefkow said, the newspaper reported.