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Security guard’s shooting by cop not mentioned in police report on bar shooting

The parking lot where security guard Jemel Roberson was killed. | Mitch Armentrout/Sun-Times

An official account by the Robbins Police Department of its response to gunfire at Manny’s Blue Room bar this month makes no mention of a key victim of the melee that played out there — Jemel Roberson, the security guard who was gunned down by an officer from a neighboring police department.

The south suburban department released a two-page report to the Chicago Sun-Times late last week, and on Monday, an attorney for Roberson’s family prepared to go to court to force the release of the name of the Midlothian officer who shot Roberson, 26.

Gregory Kulis, who represents Roberson’s mother in a wrongful death lawsuit against Midlothian, said in an interview that it was “kind of bizarre” that the report doesn’t mention Roberson or his death. However, it does identify the man who shot four people at bar — the incident that eventually resulted in Roberson being killed.

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The Sun-Times is not identifying that man because he has not been charged in connection with the Robbins shooting. However, records show he has dodged multiple criminal charges in the past. Cook County Sheriff’s officials, who are investigating the shooting inside the bar, said the suspect has been hospitalized but is not in police custody.

In the latest of several arrests by the suspected shooter, drug possession and dealing charges, were filed in connection with separate incidents against the shooting suspect this year and last, records show. Those cases were dropped, as was an aggravated battery charge in 2012. In 2015, he was found not guilty of armed robbery.

Jemel Roberson and his son Tristan Roberson. | Avontea Boose via AP
Jemel Roberson and his son Tristan Roberson. | Avontea Boose via AP

The report was released after the Sun-Times asked the village of Robbins for any reports written by officers about the incident at Manny’s, as well as any video that might have captured it. In response, the department released a two-page report containing a narrative from one officer.

That report appears to indicate at least one other Robbins officer was present.

The officer who wrote the report said he was sent to the bar after shots were fired around 4 a.m. Nov. 11. When he arrived, the officer said he saw “a large crowd of people running out of the doors at the nightclub.” That’s when he said he asked dispatch for assistance.

While he was there, the officer said he heard loud gunshots ring out “from different areas around the perimeter of the nightclub.” He said he and another officer began to ask people to leave. That’s when he said he noticed a man — identified by security as the initial shooter — on the pavement with a gunshot wound to his buttocks.

Security told the officer that man had “entered through the side door and began randomly shooting,” according to the report.

The officer wrote that a 30-year-old bartender was shot in the back of the head and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, but she was not considered to be in serious condition. Another victim, a 33-year-old man, was also shot in the right hand and arm, the officer wrote. That man was taken to MetroSouth Medical Center and was also considered stable.

The document goes on to name additional agencies called to the bar, including the Midlothian Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff and the Illinois State Police. But it fails to mention Roberson.

Whether there are additional written reports is unclear. The Robbins Police Department did not indicate it had withheld any records pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. A message seeking comment from the police department was not returned.

The Illinois State Police is also investigating what transpired. In a press release last week, it said the Midlothian officer “encountered a subject in plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard, armed with a gun in the west parking lot.”

The ISP said the officer gave Roberson multiple verbal commands to drop his gun and get on the ground before firing. A witness, however, has said the officer fired “before he got the last word out.”

Witnesses also said Roberson was wearing a hat that said “security” and possibly other marked clothing. They also said bystanders and other officers at the scene shouted at the Midlothian officer, warning them that Roberson was a security guard and not the shooter.

Kulis has asked U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow to force the ISP to release the officer’s name. Kulis argued in a motion last week that Roberson’s estate has a right to the information, and he accused ISP of “cherry picking” information for public dissemination.

A state police spokesman did not return a message seeking comment Monday. Lawyers are expected to appear in Lefkow’s courtroom Tuesday morning.